NOT QUITE ACCORDING TO PLAN
Twice Tony makes fairly elaborate plans. However, they do not turn out quite as he'd planned.
An established relationship story.
Written: April 2013. Word count: 2,190.
Tony hurried into Autopsy and looked around him; he gave a sigh of relief when he saw that Ducky was alone. He had been fairly certain it was one of Palmer's days for being at Med School, but he'd feared in the time it had taken him to get from the squad room to Autopsy, given he'd gone the circular route, that Gibbs might be there - but he wasn't.
"Hey, Ducky," he said walking over to where Ducky sat at his desk. "How are you?"
Ducky looked up, blinked several times and carefully put down his pen - Tony idly noticed it was an ink pen and looked fairly old-fashioned. Ducky must have noticed him noticing his pen because he glanced at it and said, "Would you believe I have had this pen since my days at Eton?"
"Er, yes?" Tony replied, somehow without actually intending to do so making it a question.
Ducky laughed softly. "Not that I've actually used it all these years; indeed I thought it had been lost in one of my travels or moves. Thus, I was rather surprised when I found it just last week in an old box of - but you haven't come down to see me to hear me ramble about a pen, have you now?"
Tony gave him a half-smile. "Not really, Ducky, no," he said.
Ducky smiled back. "So why exactly have you come to see me, Anthony? To what do I owe the pleasure of a visit from you?"
"Um," suddenly Tony wasn't sure his visit was a good idea. "I came to say hello?" Again to his annoyance he made it a question.
Ducky stared at him and shook his head. "Anthony DiNozzo, please do not do me the discourtesy of lying to me. We both know you are not in the habit of popping down to Autopsy merely to pass the time of day with me, do we not?"
Tony felt his cheeks grow a little warm. "Sorry, Ducky," he muttered.
Ducky stared at him for a moment and then smiled. "Your apology is accepted, Anthony. You know of all of Jethro's rules, Rule Six is the one with which I disagree most of all. To apologize is not a sign or weakness; it is quite the opposite. To apologize, if one really means it of course, is a sign of strength. Do you not agree, Anthony?"
Did he? Actually, come to think of it, yes, he did. However, old habits die hard and before he answered he glanced around him and then he said quietly and quickly, "Yes, Ducky, I do."
Ducky laughed softly. "It's quite all right, Anthony; I assure you Jethro has not suddenly appeared, nor is he hiding anywhere and I shall not tell him; your secret is quite safe with me. Now, you were about to tell me quite why you came down to see me and why you clearly do not wish anyone else, especially Jethro, to be present."
Tony widened his eyes as he stared at Ducky. "And I thought Gibbs was the one who always knew everything," he said.
Ducky laughed again. "Do no forget just how well I know you and of course my ability to read people. Now what is it you wish to ask me?"
Tony glanced around him once more. Actually Ducky had made it fairly easy for him given he'd introduced the subject of Gibbs's rules. He turned the other chair which stood by Ducky's desk around and straddled it. "You know Gibbs better than anyone, right?"
"Given the number of years we have known one another, I am certain that is true."
"Right." Tony took a deep breath and said in a rush, "How important are Gibbs's rules to him? I mean when it comes to breaking them, that is?"
Ducky stared at him. "Well, Jethro has broken his own rules on more than one occasion, but I do not think that is what you mean, is it?" Tony shook his head. Ducky was silent for a moment or two as he continued to stare at Tony. Finally he sighed softly and said, "He is not quite as rigid as people believe him to be."
"About all of them?"
Again Ducky was silent for a moment as he went on staring at Tony. "Or is it one rule in particular in which you are interested? Rule Twelve, shall we say?"
Tony opened his mouth and closed it again. For a moment he looked away from Ducky and even considered just getting up and leaving, but that wouldn't help. Instead he nodded and sighed. "Yes, Ducky; Rule Twelve. I mean look how he was when I - When EJ and I . . ."
"That was somewhat different."
"Yeah, EJ wasn't actually on our team."
"Whereas dear Ziva is."
Tony opened and closed his mouth again. "You know?"
Ducky shrugged. "Strictly speaking, no I did not know - not until a second or two ago. I did, however, strongly suspect, shall we say?"
"He'll never allow it, will he?"
"If he finds out from anyone other than you, Anthony, no, he certainly won't allow it. However, if you take the trouble to actually inform him before he does discover it then . . . Well, I do not believe Jethro is without sympathy and understanding when it comes to mutual attraction."
Tony blinked as his mind replayed what Ducky had said and tried to figure out just what he had said. "Oh," he said finally. "Right. I understand. It's only been once." Ducky just stared at him. "But I'll speak to him today. Thanks, Ducky." He stood up.
"It was my pleasure, Anthony," Ducky said and smiled.
Tony returned to the squad room, sat down at his desk and turned his computer screen on. "Where's the boss?" he asked.
"With Vance," McGee replied.
Tony looked up. "A case?"
McGee sighed and shook his head. "No, I don't think so. It looks like another day of paperwork."
"That's four days running. You'd have thought some naval or marine person would have done something to someone by now, wouldn't you?"
"You actually want a marine to murder another marine, do you, Tony?"
Tony felt his cheeks grow a little warm. "No, Ziva," he said. "It's just - Aren't you bored?"
She was silent for a moment and then gave him one of her beautiful, intimate smiles. "Well, yes, Tony, I confess that I am. However, I would have thought you could have found something to occupy your mind." She stared at him; her meaning was quite clear.
Tony smiled back at her. "Oh, I can, Ziva," he said softly, "I really can." He laughed softly as her cheeks became a little red and she turned her attention back to the file she'd been working on.
As pleasant as thinking about Ziva naked in his bed, or about kissing Ziva, holding Ziva, running his hands through her hair, stroking her naked skins, Tony turned his mind to how to talk to Gibbs instead.
By the time Gibbs returned to the squad room some forty minutes later Tony had made a really elaborate plan. A plan that involved at a peripheral level a basement and bourbon.
FOUR HOURS LATER
Tony groaned and tried to sit up, but a firm hand pushed him back down. "Stay where you are, Anthony." The name as well as the voice told him who was kneeling next to him.
"McGee?" he managed around lips that were far too large for his mouth.
"Is safe and well - thanks to you, DiNozzo."
Tony turned his head slightly and wished he hadn't. "Hey, boss," he managed. "You're here."
"Is he going to be all right, Duck?"
"Oh, yes, my dear. He'll be perfectly all right - well he will be if he listens to me and stays still."
"Staying still, boss." And then he heard himself saying, "Boss; I want to date Ziva."
Silence prevailed for a moment; then he heard Gibbs sigh softly and say. "Yeah, DiNozzo, know you do."
"The first time, the first time, DiNozzo, you do anything foolish -"
"You mean like push her out of the way in order to save her life after her gun had jammed, just as he did for Timothy?" Tony heard Ducky say brightly.
"Duck." Gibbs drew Ducky's name out, but Tony could hear a faint touch, so faint he actually wasn't completely certain he had heard it, of both respect and humor in Gibbs's voice.
"Yes, Jethro?" Ducky said his tone still bright.
But Gibbs didn't answer him; he just looked back down at Tony. "The first time, DiNozzo. It'll be the last."
Tony blinked and processed what Gibbs had said. He thought he understood, but his head was pounding, his eyes felt heavy and he his brain seemed to be wrapped in cotton-wool. "Are you saying you don't mind?" he finally asked.
Gibbs sighed again. "Guess I am, Tony. I guess I am."
"Just don't make me regret it."
"I won't, boss. Really I won't."
"Hmm," was Gibbs's only comment.
Okay so maybe six months of dating wasn't really long enough, but even though they'd only been dating for six months, they'd known one another for eight years. Hell, that was longer than some people stayed married - that was a lot longer than some people stayed married!
They knew one another in a way that people who had only been dating for six months couldn't possibly know one another. In many ways they knew one another better than some people who had been married for forty years knew one another. Sometimes Tony thought they knew one another better even than Gibbs and Ducky knew one another, because they spent a large part of every day with one another, working along side each other, arguing, fighting, laughing, supporting, teasing, caring - they did it all and so much more.
So it wasn't too soon - at least not for him. And he really believed he knew Ziva well enough to be as certain as he imagined anyone could be about anything which concerned Ziva, to be fairly sure, less than marginally sure, well, it was possibly possible at least that Ziva would feel the same way.
He'd bought the ring a month after Gibbs had given his permission for them to date. He'd bought it because he'd seen it and had decided that it was the perfect ring for Ziva. It was rubies and opals set in a fairly old-fashioned setting. It wasn't overly large, it certainly wasn't ostentatious; it would suit her skin tone and her hair color perfectly. It was as if had been made for her, it was as if it had been waiting for him to walk by the somewhat shabby (he had to admit) store and see it nestled on green velvet in the window - it had been the only decent looking ring on display.
So now sixth months to the day after they officially started dating he was going to propose. He planned it all out; his plan was fairly elaborate and involved dinner at Ziva's favorite restaurant with a special meal consisting of her favorite food accompanied by her favorite wine; at the end of dinner he would take the box from his pocket and ask her to marry him. He wouldn't get down on one knee or make a big scene; he wouldn't ask the waiter to hide the ring in dessert, he'd just ask her in a mature way.
The day started well enough. In fact it started very well; it started so well that Tony was quite, quite sure nothing could, nothing would go wrong.
EIGHT HOURS LATER
"What happened?" Tony groaned as he tried to sit up.
"No, Tony, do not move." Ziva's hand on his chest stilled him. "Ducky said you must not move and the hospital doctor agreed with him."
"I'm in the hospital?"
"You pushed Gibbs out of the way when his Sig jammed and a bullet grazed your head. However, Ducky has assured me that you will be quite all right."
"Well the hospital doctor said the same, but I have never trusted doctors, with the exception of Ducky of course."
"You are going to be quite all right."
"Sure I am. Ziva?"
"Am I still dressed?"
She laughed; he liked to hear her laugh. "No, Tony, you are in a hospital gown. Why is there something you need?"
"Yeah. But you can't get it."
"Because it's for you," Tony said without really thinking about it.
"In that case, surely I can -"
"It's a ring, Ziva."
"An engagement ring."
Slowly he turned his head and after blinking several times he focused on her; she didn't seem unhappy or perturbed, in fact she was smiling. "Will you marry me, Ziva?" he asked.
Her smile increased and she bent her head and kissed him lightly. "Yes, Tony, I will marry you."
Just Another Day is the sequel to this story.
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