Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 2928
Character(s): Tony DiNozzo, Ziva David
Category(ies): Friendship, General
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Summary: After Tony comes out to Gibbs in "A Little Liquid Courage," Abby in "Tea and Incense," and McGee in "Cheers, Probie," it's Ziva's turn. This fic includes Clowny Cakes and lots of banter.
Without moving his eyes from the computer screen or slowing his already sluggish typing, Tony smiled. "You're not the only one with Ninja skills, Ziva," he said. "I know you're watching me."
"Is that so?" Ziva asked slowly, one eyebrow arched. Her fingers paused over her keyboard and she glanced at him from behind her desk.
Tony nodded, looking over at her with a flirtatious smile and giving up on his paperwork for the time being. "I know I'm extremely good-looking," he said, wiggling his eyebrows, "but honestly, Ziva, we have work to do. You can't let my perfectly styled hair and chiseled body distract you."
With insincere confusion, Ziva asked, "Chiseled body? Is that an American idiom for beer belly that I have not yet learned?"
McGee snorted in amusement from his desk, but wisely, did not intercept.
"I'll have you know that I have a lean and trim waist," Tony said haughtily, leaning back in his chair. "I'd be happy to show you, but I'm not sure you could handle it."
Ziva smirked at him as she stood and sauntered across their workspace to lean on the edge of his desk, right in front of his keyboard. She tapped his shoulder once with her index finger and smiled. "You are hiding something," she said.
Tony grinned, nudging her leg with his knee. "You're right," he said. "There's a Clowny Cake in my top desk drawer. I was trying to keep it a secret. Want it?"
Ziva rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. "I have no interest in your Clowny Cake," she said. "This is something far more important."
"More important?" Tony replied in horror. "What could be more important than a Clowny Cake? They're fluffy and light and just the right texture. You Israelis just don't understand American culture."
Ziva scrutinized him for a moment, ignoring his response. "It is more important than a Clowny Cake," she said confidently. "And I think, perhaps, that you are keeping a good secret this time, and that you have been keeping it for quite a while."
Tony risked a sideways glance at McGee, who was pretending not to listen as he typed on his keyboard - but Tony knew that he was listening, or he wouldn't have that satisfied little smirk on his face that meant he knew something Ziva did not.
"So what kind of secret am I keeping?" Tony asked, attention back on Ziva as he leaned forward and gave her a mischievous smile. He could play this game, too, after all.
"I am not sure," Ziva said, "but I have seen you texting more often than usual recently. You also act out for attention less and-"
"Act out for attention?" Tony interrupted incredulously, staring at her in annoyance. "I do not act out for attention! Who do you think you are, my first grade teacher?"
"No," Ziva said, "I am nothing like Miss Webster."
Tony's mouth fell open in shock. "Wait, how do you-" He paused, considering her for a moment, and then shook his head. "No, don't tell me. Just don't. I don't want to know."
Ziva smirked. "It is no matter. I do not believe we are here to discuss Miss Webster and her frequent calls home about your behavior in class," she said, tapping Tony's shoulder again.
"I think Gibbs is coming back," Tony said sullenly, pushing her arm away and crossing his arms over his chest.
"I think not," Ziva said. "You are merely upset that I know of your first grade teacher. More importantly, you are keeping a secret. A big one. You drive to work from a different direction than you did in the past, which indicates a new home-"
"Are you stalking me?" Tony asked, eyebrows shooting up as McGee gave up all pretense of typing and turned to watch Tony and Ziva's interaction with interest.
"No," Ziva said, "but that does not mean I have not seen you arrive at work, considering we arrive at nearly the same time as each other every single day. And yet, the home address on your personnel file remains unchanged."
Tony frowned and prodded gently at her thigh in an attempt to get her off his desk, but she didn't budge. He could feel himself getting a bit nervous; he knew that this was a prime opportunity to tell her everything, but they were at work, and McGee was there, but she was so close to figuring it out-
"I believe you will tell me when you are ready," Ziva said. Her voice was a bit softer, and Tony looked at her in surprise at the change in tone. He was even more surprised by the compassion in her eyes, and his brow furrowed.
"Do I need to tell you?" he asked, suddenly serious. "Or do you already know?"
Ziva shrugged and smiled at him once more, but this one was genuine and warm, if a bit playful - but not flirtatious or cutting or halfway to a smirk. "No," she said and slid off the edge of his desk with a pat to the shoulder.
"Wait," he said, leaning forward as she left his desk. "No, I don't need to tell you because you already know, or no, you don't already know so I do need to tell you?"
"DiNozzo! This isn't social hour!"
The command was sharp as Gibbs came around the corner of their partition, and Tony instantly shot up straight in his desk chair and began to type, even if he was just pressing keys to look busy.
"Yes, Boss, thank you, Boss, working, Boss," Tony said, wincing when a gruff hand whacked the back of his head even though he knew the inevitable headslap was coming.
Tony watched as Gibbs settled into his desk chair with a long sip of coffee, and when he was satisfied that Gibbs was not going to bother him further, he glanced over at Ziva. She was smiling at him.
He grimaced. A smiling Ziva was never a good thing.
"I asked Abby if you were seeing someone," Ziva said abruptly.
"Oh yeah?" Tony asked, hoping his voice remained even. They were walking through a park together to get a mid-afternoon coffee, and Tony suddenly wished they had a hot case rather than an afternoon of paperwork so that he didn't have leisure time alone with Ziva. She was like a shark - a crazy Israeli Ninja shark that just didn't give up.
"Yes," Ziva confirmed. "And do you know what Abby said when I asked her?"
"What's that?" Tony asked, voice flat. He didn't really want to have this conversation.
"She said that if I really wanted to know, I should ask you. And when I asked McGee, he said the same thing. When I asked Gibbs, he told me to mind my own business and keep my nose where it belongs." She said the last part with a little huff, clearly put out that Gibbs spoke to her that way, which Tony couldn't quite understand because that sounded like a standard Gibbs conversation to him.
Tony felt his back straighten a bit, though, at the loyalty in his teammates' responses; it did wonders to bolster his courage. "So now you're asking me," he said, eyes trained on a squirrel that was eating a hot dog bun someone had tossed on the ground.
"Yes," she said. "I am. Are you seeing someone, Tony?"
Tony stopped for a moment, and glanced around him. There weren't too many people around, so he walked over to a park bench and sat, patting the seat beside him. Ziva followed, sitting gingerly and regarding him with curiosity. He couldn't help but notice that she looked confused at how drawn out this was becoming, and he felt certain that she'd just been playing with him in the bullpen earlier; she had no idea what his secret was.
"Yes, I'm seeing someone," Tony finally said, and then swallowed, his throat suddenly dry. His relationship with Ziva was complex at best; there was always a strangely sexual undertone that set him on edge, and he couldn't help but wonder if she'd take advantage of the news that he was gay when they were teasing each other. He didn't want her to see it as a weakness and use it against him; he'd had enough of that.
"It must be serious," Ziva observed. She sounded inquisitive.
Tony nodded, eyes trained on the footpath that ran beside the bench. He could feel his palms sweating, and he anxiously rubbed them on his thighs.
"Why are you so nervous?" Ziva asked.
He looked at her, and her brows were twisted in honest confusion. She was watching him carefully, and he knew that he looked scared when he met her eyes, but he couldn't help it - this was it. He had to tell her. His heart began to beat faster when he thought of what this meant; once she knew, there would be no secrets anymore. He'd have to tell Ducky and Palmer, sure, but the core of his team would know, and that was something he couldn't have even imagined only a month ago - and now, it was rapidly becoming reality.
"Tony?" Ziva asked again, and suddenly, through the haze of anxiety that seemed to envelop him, he felt a familiar strength in his gut. He could do this.
He turned to Ziva with a smile and reached out and took her hand. Her fingers were small, so small that they belied the strength he knew she possessed, and he gave them a little squeeze.
"Ziva," he began, looking at their joined hands. "I only just told everybody else in the last couple of weeks. And it wasn't - it wasn't really a planned thing, so me telling you last - it has nothing to do with you. Okay?"
He looked up at her, and she looked nervous now. "Tony, is this...are you undercover again? Is that why this is such a big secret?"
"No, no," Tony said. "It's nothing like that. I wouldn't do that again."
"Then why is this such a big deal? Is she some kind of foreign operative? Or perhaps a suspect in an investigation?"
Tony smiled a little bit and shook his head ruefully, eyes still on their hands. "No," he said. He paused for a moment. "No connection to any cases." Another pause, this one with a compulsive swallow, and then he looked up to meet her eyes. "He's a musician."
She stared at him for a moment in disbelief, eyes wide and brows high on her forehead, and then she wrinkled her nose in confusion. "What?"
He pulled his hand away and frowned, heart suddenly beating fast. He ran a hand over his face and tried to think of what to do next, because he had no idea how to play this now; Ziva seemed anything but accepting. He wondered if he'd have to resign, and he lowered his shaking hand back to his lap - but Ziva grabbed onto it and held tight. He bit his lip and stared, and wondered if those small, delicate fingers were about to break his own.
"You - you are serious, yes?" she said.
He looked at her and nodded solemnly, eyes boring into hers. He hoped as hard as he could that he had misjudged her and that she was going to be okay with this after all.
"And you - how long have you been seeing this...this man?" she asked.
He couldn't quite read her tone of voice, but he answered truthfully nonetheless. "Almost a year."
Her eyes widened again. "That long?" She sounded a bit hurt, and Tony nodded carefully.
She let go of his hand and looked away for a moment, staring straight ahead. He watched, his heart beating fast, and wondered where this was going to go. He resisted the urge to quote movies and goof off because he needed her to know that he was serious, so he simply waited, hands busying themselves with the buttons on his suit jacket.
After a moment, she turned to him. His eyes widened when she unexpectedly cupped his face in her hands, and he stared at her in surprise. "Tony," she said, "thank you for telling me."
His eyes were still wide, and he nodded, hoping she wasn't about to snap his neck. "Um," he said, "you're welcome."
She released his face and then smirked at him. "So, tell me," she said, "are you the pitcher or the catcher?" Thrown completely off guard, he felt a look of disbelief cross his face, and he had no idea how the conversation went from emotional to, well, that in the blink of an eye, but that was how Ziva operated; she probably wanted to get the upper hand back.
When he didn't respond, Ziva frowned. "Those are the correct terms, yes?"
"Uh, yeah," he said, but then snapped himself out of it and forced a smile on his face, feeling for a moment that maybe things would be okay between them - after all, he was familiar with sexual banter. "And that is something you'll have to fantasize about because we are not going there."
She snorted. "The catcher, then?" she asked innocently.
Tony gave her an annoyed look and crossed his arms over his chest, and she laughed.
"Definitely the catcher," she surmised. "And tell me, is this the first man you have been with?"
"No," he said, and at her surprised look, he sighed. His heart was still beating fast and he felt a bit shaky, and he couldn't quite grasp that Ziva knew, but he continued. "I've known I was gay since I was a kid."
Ziva frowned. "What about all the women? You're not...bisexual?" she asked.
He looked at her with guilt on his face. "A lot of my stories were made up," he said. "A lot weren't, because I was trying really hard to like women, but a lot were. But this - it doesn't mean that I didn't care about the women that I slept with," he said, looking at her carefully. "I-"
"It is no matter," she interrupted. "I understand. Why didn't you just tell the truth from the beginning?"
The question seemed so simple, but Tony felt his shoulders slump and he sighed. "It's - it's really hard, Ziva," he admitted. He was surprised by how honest he was being, but then, he supposed that if he were going to tell her, he might as well go all the way. "I had a lot of bad experiences - got sent away, got fired, things like that. It was easier to just be someone else."
"Your father knows?" she asked. Her voice was softer now, sympathetic.
Tony felt a bitter laugh escape him and he shrugged. "I don't know; I guess so," he said. "I told him when I was a kid, and he was an asshole about it. Haven't brought it up since."
Ziva was silent for a moment, but let the line of questioning go. Suddenly she looked at Tony very seriously. "When will I meet your partner?"
"Um," Tony said, suddenly nervous again, especially at the way Ziva's eyes were narrowed. "I don't know...no one's met him yet."
"We will meet him soon," she said confidently, a dangerous edge to her voice, "and be sure that he is good enough."
Tony grinned. "Ziva, I didn't know you how much you cared!"
Ziva bristled. "Well, I am beginning to think that he might be impaired or perhaps mentally unstable if he has been dating you this long. It is a safety precaution," she said reasonably.
Tony rolled his eyes and stood up, feeling lighter than he had in as long as he could remember. "Come on," he said, "Gibbs is gonna kill us if we don't get coffee and get back to the bullpen in the next ten minutes."
As Ziva stood and joined him, Tony couldn't keep the wide smile off his face. He still felt a little nervous because he wasn't sure how it would be for him at work anymore now that he didn't have to hide, and the idea of his team meeting his partner - well, that was frankly terrifying - but he felt unbelievably proud of himself, and when Ziva linked her arm through his, he happily accepted.
After a moment of silence, something occurred to Ziva. "Oh!" she said, "This is why you always know what brand of shoe I am wearing. I was beginning to wonder."
Tony snorted. "Yeah, and it's exactly why I know those Prada bad-boys you've got on right now are last season," he said without even glancing down at her feet.
"What, am I supposed to throw them away when a new pair comes out? They cost a hand and a foot," she complained.
He turned and grinned at her. "Arm and a leg," he corrected. She rolled her eyes at him, and not for the first time, he wondered if she messed up her idioms on purpose.
"By the way," she said, "You still owe me a Clowny Cake."
Tony's mouth dropped open in surprise. "No way! You lost your chance, David!" he said, and when she laughed, he felt a persistent grin creeping up over his features once more. His two worlds were merging together, and for the first time in a long time, he felt like he was finally, truly himself - and it was incredible.