When John woke up, he was slightly disorientated, he wasn’t in his own room and he surely wasn’t in a hotel. Then he remembered the night before, he and Ziva had made out until they both went nearly too far. For one, they both had had too much too drink, and John was emotionally drained after talking to Ziva, and so was she.
As they had a long day ahead of them, John had kindly said that it would be enough for now, not to rush into things even though it felt extremely good to really talk to Ziva and touch her wherever she had let him.
He got dressed, found his way to the bathroom and cleaned himself up before joining Ziva for a quick breakfast. They decided to drive to work separately as not to arouse any suspicion from the others and John was surprised to find Teyla standing in the bullpen when he arrived.
“Uhm… good morning…” he said slowly.
“Good morning John,” Teyla said evenly. “You sleep well?” she asked of his seemingly relaxed behaviour.
“Yes… I did…” he said suspiciously. “What are you doing here?”
“She’s here at my request, and I’m glad you showed up early because we need to talk,” Gibbs said as he walked in. “And preferably before the rest of the team shows up.”
Did Gibbs already know that he and Ziva had kissed? That he had spent the night in Ziva’s guest room? John blinked. “Look…”
“No, you listen,” Gibbs looked at him. “I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired by DiNozzo’s behavior towards you.”
John shrugged, “I don’t really pay attention to it, Sir.”
“DiNozzo needs to learn that even though you’re our new probie…”
John glared. “You know I hate that nickname…”
Gibbs smirked. “You’re our new probie, but that doesn’t mean Tony can act the way he does. How about we’re going to spend the morning in the gym? I want you to allow Tony to spar with you, and to even the field, he’ll wear an eye patch.”
“Now you’re just insulting me, but sure, if you think that will work…”
“And after that, I’d like you and Teyla to give us a small demonstration how to work with those sticks I caught you with the other day, and teach the team.”
“As I told Agent Gibbs, I would be honored,” Teyla said brightly.
“Yeah…” John scratched his head. “I need coffee…”
Gibbs shoved the cup of coffee in his hand that he had for himself at Sheppard. “There you go,” he said before looking at the elevator where Ziva was walking in with her iPod in her ears. He looked back at John and nodded. “Go do what you need to before everyone gets here.”
“Morning, Ziva,” John greeted as he usually greeted her as he gently tugged Teyla along with him towards the gym.
“Morning,” Ziva replied easily as she dropped her things at her desk. She started to wave hello to Teyla with a confused look on her face as John dragged her away.
Looking at Gibbs, she raised an eyebrow. “Am I missing something here?” she asked, putting her sidearm in her secured drawer.
Gibbs just smirked in return as he sat down at his desk. When Ziva kept looking at him, he shrugged. “We’re going to show John that he’s not worthless today, and teach Tony a lesson.”
“I don’t understand,” she said shaking her head as she sat down to check her messages. She started replying to emails when McGee came in, slowly followed by Tony who appeared like he was either still asleep or hungover.
“Wake up DiNozzo! We’re heading down to the gym,” Gibbs said amused as he grabbed a roll of bandages.
He looked up and whined. “Training today Boss? Can’t we do this tomorrow? I’m really not feeling up to working out today,” Tony said as he dumped his bag.
“I have the feeling he does not care Tony,” McGee said as he signed off his computer to go change himself.
“What did you do anyway?” McGee said, “You look like you could hurl any moment.”
“I hung out with some friends last night, so what?”
“Really Tony? On a weeknight? You should know better by now.”
“Shut up McKnowitall.”
“Enough!” Gibbs hollered. “Go change! Now, all of you!” He said looking at each of them in turn. “I’ll be in the gym waiting for you.” he added before walking out pissed.
Ziva only looked at Tony before following Gibbs downstairs and then to the women’s locker room. When she was done, she arrived to find John standing inside the boxing ring with Teyla talking and smiled.
John looked over to Ziva and smiled uncomfortably before turning is attention anywhere else. She had amazing legs underneath the shorts she was wearing.
“You did not go to a hotel, did you?” Teyla smiled warmly.
“She made me stay in her guest room,” John shrugged at Teyla. “Please be gentle with Tony and McGee.”
“I shall with McGee.” Teyla smirked evilly.
Ziva made her way over to the ring side and peered up them. “Why do I have the feeling we are all being set up for a show?” she asked. “Gibbs was just on a rampage upstairs.”
John shrugged. “He wants to DiNozzo to spar with me. He’s obviously annoyed by his behavior.”
“And Agent Gibbs walked in on John and I sparring,” Teyla replied. “Before the barbecue. He wishes us to teach your team.”
“It beats paper work for the morning, doesn’t it?” He smiled, knowing that Tony would probably hurt him like hell.
Ziva wasn’t sure. “Not if someone gets hurt. Tony may not have formal training but is capable when he needs to be,” she said. “Not that I haven’t been tempted with killing the man with a paperclip on a number of occasions.”
“Teyla will be fine,” John assured her with a smile and nodded to Gibbs as the man walked in. “Thanks for the coffee, Gibbs.”
“Yep,” he nodded and looked around. “Where’s DiNozzo?”
“Puking his guts out,” McGee’s voice sounded from behind Gibbs. “Apparently he had a party last night and he really doesn’t want to work out.”
He breathed out irritated. Walking out, slamming the door in the process, the group could only assume he was going to drag Tony in if necessary.
“He must be really pissed… I’ve never seen him like that,” McGee said, with a hint of fear in his voice.
Ziva shook her head and waited. Before they knew it, Gibbs shoved Tony through the doors. “Get in the ring,” he ordered.
“Why?” Tony moaned.
“So you can beat the shit out of me,” Sheppard said and pulled Tony into the ring.
“Really?” Tony instantly sounded better.
“Gibbs’ orders,” John nodded and shrugged.
“Hold on,” Gibbs said as he pulled out a black eye patch. “Put that over your left eye first. Then have at it and get it over with.”
Tony looked at Gibbs. “You want me to be a pirate?”
“No. It’s to level the field and that you know how it is from Sheppard’s side,” he said. “Put it on and get whatever your issue with him out…Now!”
Tony looked ridiculous with that eye patch over his head and John tried hard not to laugh. Watching Tony dance around him like a boxer from the movies, wasn’t helping either. He had trained and trained with many marines on Atlantis, but at least none of them were as hilarious as Tony. “You look like a cartoon,” John said as he kept an eye on Tony. “Didn’t they teach you that you can hit harder when you’re standing still?”
“Whatever dude. I just wish you would leave us already,” he grunted before taking his first swing.
He deflected Tony’s swing with his arm. “Why? I’ve got my orders, there’s nothing I can do about it.” John said calmly, surprised that he had seen that swing coming.
Tony made a face and swung again, “You don’t belong here. We didn’t need you before and we don’t need you now…”
That swing didn’t land either because John stepped aside, making Tony stumble forward. “I know, I’m not a trained investigator like yourself,” he shrugged. “I’m not going to deny that I’m missing a certain skill set, but seriously, you hit as if you’re in a bar fight.”
The agent was growing more pissed in his hungover state. Taking more wild and scrappy swings, “You also need to stay away from Ziva. I’m her partner…”
“Ah…” John nodded, “Now we’re getting somewhere. For your information,” John was getting dizzy from Tony’s constantly circling him and made the other man trip so that he could at least try to become less dizzy. “She asked if I could be her partner herself. I didn’t go to him.”
Ziva let out a breath as she watched and listened. Her hands gripped the rope of the ring tightly in her own anger.
“Gibbs should have said no, I saw your game from day one. He could have paired you with McGee,” he said as he swung out into John’s blind spot.
“What game, Tony?” John said after Tony had hit him, he had suspected that the man could hit at least hard enough to make it a decent bruise, but this was nothing. “Uhm… even Torren hits harder than that.”
Ziva had enough. “This is ridiculous!” she exclaimed. “Gibbs, Sheppard is going to hurt him and you’re going to allow this? And Tony! Get this now, loud and clear. I do not want a relationship with you past the friendship we’ve had over the years. I do not want a romantic one with you, not now, not at all!”
“Relax Ziva,” Gibbs said, “Have some faith in your partner. He’s not going to hurt him. Are you Sheppard?”
“Nah, you’ve seen how Teyla wipes the floor with me. How could I hurt Tony?” John shrugged.
“Tony needs this, Ziva,” Gibbs said, amused. “He’s slacking because of his frustrations towards another team member, so, let’s have them to duke it out.”
He had no intention of hurting Tony or pulling a punch himself, he was just fine with dodging Tony’s attacks and felt ridiculously proud of himself as the sparring sessions with Teyla had seemed to help, he was still able to fight if he had to. “You’ve heard the lady, Tony.”
“It’s not about that at all,” Tony said through gritted teeth and decided to aim lower this time, but the patch on his eye made it hard for him to see any kind of depth at all, and being hungover didn’t help much either. “She was my partner, we made a good team, and now she’s your partner.”
“I can never take your place, Tony,” John sighed. “And I don’t want to. Heck, I don’t even want to spar with you but Gibbs told me as it’d do you some good.” He blocked another sloppy punch from Tony. “I’m the human punching bag but your punches barely land, it’s not really fair, take off the patch.”
The punches came quicker and more coordinated this time, but John managed to block every single one of them with little effort. Tony on the other hand, was sweating and getting angrier by the punch. “She’s mine.”
“She doesn’t belong to anyone, she has her own free will, her own choices.” John replied.
“She needs to be protected from guys like…”
“Me? This broken Air Force guy who lives with his best friend and her son? Basically a loser?”
“John!” Teyla warned him.
“You can beat me up later,” he said to Teyla and turned his attention back to Tony, as he had begun to fight mean and it was getting slightly harder to follow his every move. “Or from guys in general?” he asked Tony. “I think that Ziva is more than capable of taking care of herself, Tony, maybe it’s good to step back and realize that she’s not a helpless woman. She’s amazing, funny and she’s very sharp. If she wanted to, she could easily kill me or any other person who would try to harm her.”
John had enough of Tony’s attacks, because even John could lose his patience with the man, and swung his leg around to tackle the man to the floor before putting his knee between his shoulder blades to keep him on the ground. He put his fingers on the artery for a pressure point and temporarily incapacitated the Agent. “She’s her own person, Tony. She can make her own choices. You, on the other hand, are acting like a spoiled brat who lost his favorite toy to the new guy.”
“John!” Ziva gasped.
“Do not worry, Ziva, John is not hurting Tony,” Teyla assured her.
John released the nerve and got off of Tony. “Now, I’d happily go for another sparring round with you, but not now. If you take a swing at me now, I will hit back.” John said calmly to Tony.
DiNozzo was tired, sick, and had little fight left. Looking over at Ziva, he shook his head. “I just want to protect you…”
“I am fine Tony,” she said calmly. “I have been for a long time now. I appreciate your concern but please, let us move on.”
He was torn from his feelings, the past, and her wishes. Looking back at Sheppard, he sighed and nodded. “I’m done.”
“Good, because I really don’t want to hurt you,” John said and bowed to him.
“Can I go and vomit again, boss?” Tony asked Gibbs pleadingly.
Gibbs jerked his head toward the door with his permission for Tony to go. Smiling over at Ziva, he pointed to the ring.
“Your turn with Teyla,” he said.
“I don’t know Gibbs,” she hesitated, not wanting to hurt her new friend.
“I would be honored if you’d spar with me,” Teyla smiled warmly as she fetched the Rattan sticks out of her bag. “We could use these, if you are afraid of hurting me.”
“Uhm… Teyla?” John said as he stepped back.
“Do not worry John, I have no intention of hurting Ziva.”
Both women were deadly forces to be reckoned with, but they did not know it of the other. Ziva slowly got into the ring and glanced back at Gibbs who watched from the side with that darn smile on his face like he knew the world’s greatest secret.
McGee on the other hand looked frightened. Whether it be for Teyla, or himself in the lack of knowing what their boss had planned for him, one could only guess.
Watching Ziva and Teyla spar with each other using the Rattan sticks was as if watching a ballet. Both women moved easily, cat-like, and John could tell that Teyla was impressed, heck, even John was impressed by Ziva’s skill.
It would eventually become clear that a draw would need to be called. “Alright,” Gibbs called out and looked at McGee.
“Please Boss, no…”
“Has my team turned into small children all of a sudden?” Gibbs rolled his eyes. “Get in there, she won’t break you.”
He looked back at a tired Ziva who was downing a bottle of water then at Gibbs again “This is going to really suck,” he said mostly to himself and got in the ring. Looking at Teyla, he gulped.
“I will not hurt you, Tim.” Teyla said calmly. “I will teach you how to use these sticks.”
“Oh, thank God.” McGee sighed relieved.
John grinned as Ziva got out of the ring. “What do you think? How was it?”
“I do not wish to know the enemy of where she is from,” she replied breathlessly. “You did not tell me Teyla could fight. I now have a reason to visit her more now.”
John grinned as he handed Ziva a towel. “She was holding back.”
“As was I,” she grinned before dropping her voice. “We should discuss last night at some point.”
John nodded, “How about tonight? I’ll cook you dinner,” he smiled. “Unless you want me out of your guest room for another night, I’ll go to a hotel.” He look at Teyla who was being very patient with a slightly uncoordinated McGee. “I told her I’d be back after the weekend.”
Ziva nodded. “Dinner sounds good. I am unsure of what I have so a trip to the market may be in order. You are more than welcome to stay. I am not kicking you out anywhere,” she chuckled.
“Thank you Teyla, I think that if you’d continue, Tim would pass out,” Gibbs said and looked at a heavily breathing McGee. He was a bit disappointed in both McGee and DiNozzo, they weren’t as fit as they appeared to be, sure, they could run, but both men would lose a hand to hand fight. He was going to ask Ducky if he could order the two men to hit the gym more often and ask Vance if he could spare the funds to ask Teyla to be their sparring trainer.
He looked over to John and sighed. He might had to ask him first. “You barely broke a sweat when DiNozzo tried to use you as a punching bag,” Gibbs started. “It’s hardly fair. Let’s go, you and me.”
John blinked at Gibbs and shrugged. “Sure, why not.”
“Good, because if you had said ‘no’ I would have ask Teyla to make you take me on,” Gibbs grinned.
“I could take her you know, she just caught me easily this weekend because she had smacked my glasses off my face.” John responded.
“I’m sure,” Gibbs grinned as he readied himself.
Teyla smiled as she bowed out. “Actually Agent Gibbs, he does very well and even beaten me once when he had become infected with a local virus…”
“TEYLA! I don’t want to remember that!” John shot at her, she always found a way to embarrass him one way or the other and the story of how he turned into a bug was of course the best way. “You know I hated it, why do you keep bringing it up?”
“Because despite that I was afraid for you, feared for your life, it was very amusing,” Teyla mused as she handed John her Rattan sticks.
“Yeah well, it wasn’t,” John sulked. “It’s a horrible feeling to lose yourself.”
Ziva looked at John curiously before turning to Gibbs. “May I go shower and change?” she asked, to which her partner was too inclined for that motion.
“No, I want you to stay and watch his moves,” Gibbs told Ziva. “He’s your partner, you should know how he is in hand to hand combat with someone who’s not puking his guts out right now.”
Sighing she nodded and leaned up against the ring next to Teyla. “Lets see your moves, Sheppard,” she said with a look.
The first thing John noticed, Gibbs wasn’t holding back. The second thing, Gibbs wasn’t using the sticks as skillful as Teyla, more like a baseball player swinging his bat. Third thing was that when he got hit in the side for the third time, Gibbs seemed to be enjoying himself.
“See, that’s what you get with easy cases,” Gibbs shrugged. “You don’t have to run, you don’t have to shoot or fight… you get lazy.”
“I’m not lazy,” John said, finally able to predict Gibbs’ strikes and deflected them while he managed to hit Gibbs when the man was collecting himself. Gibbs was hitting like a true marine, like a bulldozer and in a way, John was glad that the man had sticks in his hand because they weren’t wearing any kind of protection at all. He didn’t want to know how hard Gibbs could strike with just his fists.
The next thing John noticed about Gibbs’ fighting was that Gibbs was trying to draw John out, make him make the first move and John was wondering why.
“Come on, Colonel, you outrank me, you should be able to get me down easily.”
Lastly, Gibbs was using the same technique verbally as John had previously used on DiNozzo, Gibbs was trying to make him angry.
“Yeah… well… you know what they say… don’t hit the elderly too hard or they break.”
Gibbs continued to grin and swiped John’s legs from under him, making him hit the deck. “Who’s the old person here?”
John groaned and quickly got up, landing a few hard strikes in Gibbs’ side and on his back before helping him to the ground. He quickly put his foot on Gibbs’ back too keep him down.
Gibbs, however, rolled over and swiped the sticks against John’s legs to make him fall over again. While both men got up, their next attack was interrupted by Ducky’s voice. “Enough already, I don’t want either one of you end up in hospital.”
“Thank you Ducky!” Ziva called out with a smile as John eagerly slid out from the ring.
“Save me,” he whispered as he took the bottle of water from her.
She only smiled and shrugged. “Tony apologized to me while you two were sparring. He will come around eventually.”
“I know,” John took a deep breath and turned to Gibbs. “Now, can we take a shower and get back into our normal clothes? Unless you want me and Teyla in the ring for fighting out our differences.”
“Go,” Gibbs nodded.
The two quickly ran out with McGee on their heals as Teyla chuckled while collecting her sticks. “It will certainly be an interesting training experience here,” she replied.
Ziva tried cleaning quickly after she got home as she waited for John. She didn’t know what he planned on making so she was at a loss as to what she could take out for him. Hearing a knock on the door, she cursed in Hebrew as she just started to go to her room to change out of her work clothes.
She tried to look calm as she opened the door and smiled. “You could have just come in,” she said holding the door open for him.
“I could,” John nodded, “But I hate it when people just enter a house, knowing that the door’s open without knocking.” He replied. “I hope you like pasta.”
“Yes, it sounds great,” she said. “The pots are in the lower cupboard next to the refrigerator. I’ll be right back…was just about to get changed when you got here.”
“Okay,” he said as he started to put the groceries out on the counter so he had easy access to them. He found a cork screw and removed the cork from the bottle of wine so it could breathe while he started to cook the pasta and made the pasta sauce using a bit of the wine from the bottle he had just opened.
Ziva came back out dressed in simple but comfortable yoga pants and top. “I feel so much better,” she exclaimed, stretching her arms as she came back into the kitchen. “It smells delicious.”
He nearly had to pick up his jaw from the floor when she walked in, she looked hot in something so simple. “Uhh… yeah… I hope it tastes good too…” He found the glasses in her kitchen and poured her a glass of wine. “Taste that.”
Sniffing the wine, she hummed at the fragrance. “I know the wine we had last night wasn’t the best. When I drink by myself there is no need for higher quality all the time,” she said before taking a sip and smiled.
“The wine was fine, I’ve just become some sort of wine snob since I came back.” He chuckled. “It’s stupid though, because it goes against everything I stand for. Same with the house in Georgetown – it’s just…”
“Too much,” Ziva said simply as she went to sit on one of the island stool. “Sometimes even this is too much for just myself. What do I need two extra guestrooms for, yes?”
“Oh, I don’t know… make it a walk in closet?” John shrugged. “Oh! Or a secret ninja hide out.”
She threw the wine cork that was on the counter at him. “Now you are beginning to sound like Tony! No, my old apartment was sufficient. One bedroom, decent bath and living space. The Navy secured this place for me when I returned and I wasn’t about to complain considering I owed them, Gibbs and the team, my life.”
“Did I sound like Tony? I should wash my mouth.” John said as he moved to the facet to rinse out his mouth. “There,” he nodded. “Yeah that house was secured by the Air Force… too many bed rooms, Teyla has the bedrooms upstairs with Torren and I have the two downstairs, one of an office.” He shrugged. “I guess we can’t really complain.”
Nodding, she watched him cook. She tried focusing on sipping the wine unsure of how to broach the subject that lingered in the air.
He looked at her as he slowly stirred in the sauce. “I know that look,” John said, “What’s on your mind?”
Ziva took a breath. “You.”
He tempered the heat of the stove and looked at her. “What did I do wrong?”
“Nothing, that I know of at least. We really do need to talk – about you and I and last night…”
“I liked last night…” he said warily.
She looked at him steadily but with equal caution, “As did I, regardless of how unexpected as it was. I know you are still grieving and if you wish to forget it happened I can do that but if you um, if you want to – ”
“Ziva…” John sighed and carefully approached her. “I kissed you for being you, not because you look like her, but because you are you… a part of me is freaking out because I haven’t known you that long, but it felt right when I kissed you.” He gently caressed her hair. “However, if you want to continue exploring how it could be as an ‘us’, I think we should take it slow.”
She smiled up at him and nodded. “I think I can do slow. You said we will be camping on the shore this weekend? I managed to get Gibbs to okay my leaving early tomorrow so I can shop some, maybe buy a new tent set.”
“We’re going to Virginia, no shore unless you count the lake. Just lots of trees and horses.” John grinned, and then realized he should have taken the day off or ask if he could leave early as well, however, at this point, it might be too suspicious. “Here,” he said and placed his platinum card on the counter. “Use that when you go shopping.”
Ziva shook her head and slid it back. “No, I have enough money to buy my own things. That is one thing you will need to learn about me,” she pointed out.
“I know that you probably have enough money to buy you things, but I am taking you away for the weekend, I should have bought a tent or whatever, and I forgot.” He slid it back towards her. “I didn’t mean to offend you. At least buy the tent with that, please?”
She pursed her lips as she looked at him then teased. “I will buy you your tent with it then…unless you think sharing one with our own sleeping bags is – too fast – for you?”
“You’re a tease,” he grinned and kissed the top of her head when he turned around to stir in the sauce again. “One tent, two sleeping bags,” he nodded as he grabbed two plates and started to serve the pasta for them.
“Okay…” she said glancing over his form accidentally and flushed. Grinning Ziva canted her head to the side and decided to play with his head a little. “But that would still be odd because I tend to sleep in the nude…”
He nearly dropped the sauce pan as he looked at her, blushing. “So do I, but it’s not a wise thing to do in a forest.”
“That’s good to know if we ever have to go undercover together,” she said refilling their wine glasses. “Somehow I doubt either of us will get much sleep tonight now! Eat here, dining table, or living room?”
“Wherever you want,” John replied as he put Parmesan cheese over their pasta filled plates.
“Living room would be comfortable,” she shrugged and grabbed their glasses and led the way. Settling back down on the floor as they had the night before, Ziva made a more conscious effort to face him so they would be able to talk more as they ate.
He had taken the plates and utensils with him as he followed her in to the living room. “You know…” he said as he sat down and put a plate in front of her. “It was really hard to focus this morning, with you dressed in your gym shorts and top. Then watching you spar with Teyla…it was…wow!”
“Hm? You were pretty good yourself with Gibbs. I do look forward to training with Teyla again…It has been a long while since I was able to let go like that,” Ziva commented as they exchanged their glasses and plates to settle to dinner.
“Teyla’s an excellent teacher. Did you see how McGee sparred with her? He went from completely nervous to being at ease with her as she’s so patient. And Gibbs hits like a truck, I don’t know what he was trying to achieve.”
She shrugged as she ate, unable to answer as it was too delicious and she was indeed hungry. When she was able to speak, Ziva was still at a loss. “With Gibbs, you never know. Coming in this morning to find out you would be sparring with Tony was probably the last thing on your mind. This is good…I may not let you go back to Teyla after the weekend now,” she laughed.
“Uh no, it was the least thing I expected. I was also quite shocked to see Teyla,” he admitted. “I’m glad you like the food,” he smiled and took a sip of his wine. “I’m happy the way it turned out the way it did.”
They talked some more while watching a movie and then went to bed, Ziva in hers and John in the guest room. He hated to admit it, but dealing with the unexpected sparring of the morning had made him end up feeling quite drained. He had talked with Teyla, shortly, but he had grown easily frustrated when she was her usual calm and collected self and hadn’t addressed the reason why he had walked out the day before, she only said that it took her a while to get Torren to settle down for his sleep during the evening.
Tomorrow was another day, he and Ziva would leave for Virginia at the end of it and he was curious what their weekend was going to be like.