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(Second) Chances

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“You have to go out with the first woman you see. Then I will do both of your case files for a month!” Ziva offered quickly, knowing they couldn’t possibly pass up an offer like that. 

Just as she suspected, Tony and McGee’s reactions were simultaneous, and they jumped at the chance. McGee rolled his shoulders back and tried to stand a little taller. Tony fixed his jacket and the signature DiNozzo smile spread across his face, wild and mischievous. Ziva could smell the confidence rolling off the two of them. They thought they had this in the bag. 

Only this time, Ziva was the one with the mischievous glint in her eye. 

“DiNozzo. McGee.” The boys turned to face their boss as Gibbs called their names, the over-confident smiles that sat on their faces changing to shock in less than a second. Ziva knew this was coming. She was the only one who noticed who they were working with for this case and it was too good to be true. There was no way she could pass up such a perfect opportunity.

“Gentlemen,” Agent Abigail Borin greeted just as emphatically as Gibbs did. Ziva watched giddily as McGee flinched and even recoiled in horror. Tony, however, set his shoulders and took this as a challenge. Discomfort flashed across his face for a brief moment, but he wasn’t about to give up on no paperwork. He met Ziva’s eyes head-on and give her a wink before turning to the Coast Guard Agent.

The mere thought of the coming crash and burn that would play out should have put a smile on Ziva’s face for the rest of the day. It should’ve made her practically giggle as the boys would actually attempt to match her bet. It should’ve made the gloating of the morning be all but forgotten as Borin stared each of them down time and time again. 

It should’ve made Ziva happy. But that pit in her stomach was never lifted. 

Every fleeting moment she wasn’t thinking about the case - which in Ziva’s opinion was much more than she cared to admit - she was thinking about the conversation from the morning. Tony and McGee bragging about the “night out” on Friday, the Friday that grew closer with every hour. With each tick of the hand closer to a new hour, the thought stung Ziva more than she would’ve ever expected it to. With each minute that passed her mood grew sour and even the smallest of things got on her nerves. If her stapler broke just one more time...

Ziva had to take a breath to keep from throwing the stapler across the room. More specifically, at Tony DiNozzo’s head. The most current stressor on her nerves. 

The man already had no definition of “limits” or “personal space”, they weren’t even in the DiNozzo dictionary. Ziva did her best to brush off most of his jokes and ignore him completely, but something about how that man smiled when it was obvious she was annoyed made her just want to strangle him. Soon it became quite hard to ignore the senior field agents when he was hovering over her desk, fidgeting with her pens and flags. 

Ziva couldn’t stop staring at his fingers as they fiddled with her property, and she had half the mind to break them right then and there. Knowing how annoyed Gibbs would be if she broke his lead agent’s fingers in the middle of a case, she clenched her fists under her desk and held back. For now.  

“You know…” Tony started, seeing the agitation written on Ziva’s face. His annoying personality had a purpose - most of the time- but tonight it was specific. Tony needed to be able to catch her off her guard. If the ninja assassin was thinking about how many bones she could get away with breaking in his body without Gibbs noticing, she would be less likely to catch on with what he was doing. 

“Technically, I should be asking you out because you were the first woman I saw-” He let his voice trail off and his fingers twirl a pen. He glanced up at Ziva’s face to see he almost succeeded. Almost

Ziva’s head snapped up, the little surprise that had flashed already hidden behind her eyes. Her lips were pressed in a hard line, and she was having a hard time controlling her shaking hands. She slammed them against the desk as she rose to her feet to meet Tony’s face, fingers gripping the edge until they turned white.

Technically, you missed your chance,” Ziva hissed, and Tony took a half step back. He opened his mouth to retaliate, but Gibbs called everyone together for more information. When Ziva stomped away, Tony ran a hand down his face. He missed his second chance. 

Ziva tried to avoid any more confrontations with Tony for the rest of the evening. It had almost worked pretty well too. Tony backed off a bit, and Ziva felt a little better after going off on him. She enjoyed the semi-sweet peace and quiet as the night dragged on, all up until they were finishing paperwork. 

All three team members looked up when Borin walking into the bullpen, set in that same commanding don’t-mess-with-me walk Gibbs used. Ziva caught Tony staring at the agent, chewing his bottom limp. This was as close to a thinking face Tony DiNozzo was going to get.  

“Tony,” Ziva whispered, getting his attention from her own desk. She was mad, but there was still a bet for them to lose. “This is your last chance! Ask her now.” Tony glanced between Borin and Ziva nodded and got up to intercept the agent. 

Ziva dropped her gaze down her desk, staring at the paperwork in front of her, chewing her own lip. The boys had no luck with Borin so far, but it was late and the case was over. Why wouldn’t the Coast Guard Agent go for a drink? A little celebration for another case wrapped up? They saved the day, did they not? Ziva shuffled the papers on her desk, letting the frown settle on her face as she desperately tried not to listen to the conversation. But no matter how hard she tried, all she could hear was Tony’s voice. 

“Hey, if you aren’t busy tonight, I was thinking about getting some drinks?” 

Ziva sighed, waiting for the inevitable answer. It was a lose-lose situation. Either Borin accepted and Ziva would have to do their paperwork for a month, or Ziva would miss out on another Friday night. She glanced over at McGee’s desk, only to do a double-take as she saw a flash of red. 

Agent Borin was standing over Gibbs’ desk, talking with him quietly. 

Ziva let her mouth drop open slightly, brows furrowing in confusion. Something wasn’t clicking. Borin was supposed to be over here talking with…

“I know you can hear me, Zee-vah .”

Ziva turned up to face Tony, who was leaning down on the cubical wall around Ziva’s desk so his chin could rest on his arms. Tony laughed at her stunned silence, moving over to sit on the corner of her desk. Ziva was incredulous as Tony became more serious, looking nearly apologetic. 

“Is it too late to ask for another chance?” He asked quietly, more sincere than Ziva had ever seen him before. “Drinks?” 

Ziva shook herself out of her surprise and let half of a real smile spread across her face. She folded up her paper and grabbed her jacket, taking Tony’s outstretched arm. 

“Of course.”