Ziva folded the last shirt and placed it on top of the pile on her bed, then picked up the clean laundry and turned towards the wardrobe. Hearing the telltale click of her apartment door being unlocked, she dropped the clothes and silently moved to the head of the bed. Her hand slipped underneath the pillow, fingers gripping the cold steel of one of the backup guns she had hidden.
She patted towards the open bedroom door on socked feet and peered into the semi-darkness of her living room. A tall dark figure closed the front door, back turned towards her. Something about the shadowy figure seemed slightly familiar, but she raised the gun, anyways.
The stranger turned around, mumbling, then moved towards her couch, swaying, stopping to regain his balance for a few seconds, then continuing a few more feet. It wasn’t until he bumped into the couch, that his face was illuminated by the moonlight peeking through the half-drawn curtains.
Her next door neighbor.
The hot one, Tony—the federal agent whom she had been getting to know better the past couple of weeks—not the sixty-year-old who smoked a pipe and apparently refused to wear anything other than a coffee-stained undershirt and sweatpants.
Tony turned a quarter to his left, swayed some more, mumbled again, then turned back and tried to move forward once more. This time when his knees hit the armrest he toppled over, landing on her couch face down.
When he moved his face, probably to breathe, and spoke again, Ziva narrowed her eyes and slightly turned her head. What she heard was slurred, muffled, and didn’t make any sense.
“Gimme back my Mighty Mouse stapler.”
Ziva lowered her gun, wondering just how drunk he was. Tucking the weapon in the waistband of her pants she walked closer, the smell of alcohol and sweat assaulting her nostrils. She grimaced and considered her options as he started snoring. By the looks of it, any attempts at trying to get him to wake up and sleep it off in his own apartment would be futile.
Ziva sighed. He was going to be so hung-over when he woke up in the morning, not to mention confused.
She retrieved a bucket and a bottle of water, and placed them beside him. On her way to her bedroom she locked the front door, and a plan to make him suffer just a tiny bit more in the morning started taking shape.
Dropping the spoon on the tile floor the next morning wasn’t an accident. They weren’t so well-acquainted that she trusted Tony alone in her apartment, and she had already postponed her morning run by two hours. Unfortunately, the clattering didn’t have the desired effect and she was tired of waiting.
Ziva walked over to the couch with a cup of tea. Judging by Tony’s snoring he wasn’t waking up on his own any time soon. She placed the tea on the coffee table and unscrewed the bottle of water.
The cold water dripping all over his face did have the desired effect.
She took a step back—away from the bucket—as Tony clumsily swiped at the wetness on his face. He groaned, lifting himself up on his elbows.
For a few seconds he turned so pale, Ziva was certain he was going to throw up. She took another step back.
The movement caught his eye and he stared at her bare legs for what felt like an hour, but was probably not even a minute. She dangled the bottle of water in front of his face to distract him.
Tony took it from her with a croak she assumed was a thank you. He blinked slowly then looked up, eyes wide, before quickly scanning the room.
Realization had clearly dawned on him that he wasn’t in a familiar apartment. He sat up straight with a pinched expression, and she almost felt sorry for him. Almost.
Sitting down on the coffee table in front of him, she said, “Drink up, you’ll feel better.” She crossed her legs, ran a foot along his calf, and said in a breathy voice, “You promised me more fun in the morning, remember.”
Tony gave her a half-hearted grin that didn’t reach his eyes, and placed the bottle against his lips. While taking a swig he glanced at her sideways, and she smiled seductively.
His gaze drifted from her lips to her neck, and he raised an eyebrow seeing his barely buttoned shirt—she had found it discarded on the floor that morning and had thought it would help sell the prank she came up with last night.
After taking one more good look at her legs, he took another gulp of water.
“So,” Ziva said, and twirled a strand of hair between her fingers, licking her lips slowly while looking him up and down. “Do you really want to move in together?”
Tony spit out the water and coughed violently.
Ziva grimaced—maybe she should have timed that better—and discreetly pulled the bucket closer. “I have given it some thought, and you are right, we have been living next to each other for two months, it makes sense. Do you want to move in here, or do I move in with you?” She asked innocently.
He let out another cough as the last remaining color drained from his face.
“Look, Ziva,” he said and scraped his throat. “I was…dead drunk last night…I don’t remember…” He waived a hand between them instead of finishing his thought.
“True,” Ziva said as she tilted her head and gave him a devilish smile. “You were really drunk, and I did almost shoot you, so you were almost a dead drunk.”
Tony’s eyes went wide as saucers. “That’s…that’s not what…you almost shot me?” He shook his head, then rubbed his face with his hands as he groaned in pain.
Ziva handed him the cup of tea, but he scrunched up his nose. “It’ll help with the hangover,” she said.
He sipped the warm drink. “That’s actually not that bad.”
She leaned in closer, and husked, “Does that mean you are up for round three?”
Tony gulped and his eyes shot to her lips, a wide smile forming on his.
“Or would you rather break out that wall,” she continued, pointing at the wall separating their apartments.
“You know, I should…I should go,” he said and emptied half of the cup of tea before handing it back to her.
He stood up quickly, too quickly, and pressed his eyes shut in pain.
Ziva stood up, as well, completely disregarding any sense of personal space. “You honestly don’t remember what happened last night,” she said looking up at him.
Tony locked eyes with her and shook his head slowly. “I wish I did.”
Ziva scratched her ear. Maybe she should tell him she was yanking, no, pulling his leg. After all, she had no intention of letting him walk out the door believing they had actually had sex.
Tony ran a hand through his hair, making it stand on end even more. He looked downward, then said, “Look, I don’t remember anything I said, or did, last night, but...” He shook his head lightly. “You have to understand that I didn’t know what I was saying.”
Ziva wondered how often he ended up apologizing in the morning. He had a different date almost every week. That and the way he sometimes looked at her had given her the idea to fool him into thinking something had happened.
“You know I usually don’t black out like this when I get drunk,” he said pensively. “Did we…use protection.”
Ziva bit the inside of her cheek. “I told you, I had a gun.”
He clenched his jaw and rolled his eyes, then walked a few feet away from her. Taking a deep breath, he crossed his arms and said, “I’m sorry, okay. This isn’t how I imagined, or wanted, this…” He vaguely gestured between them. “To happen.”
Ziva did a double take at his words. She turned her head to the side. “What?”
“We were starting to get to know each other better, right?” He shrugged. “I don’t want whatever I said last night to ruin that.”
Ziva’s skin tingled and she let out a bark of laughter. This was an unexpected revelation and she wasn’t entirely sure how to handle it. The one thing she was certain of was that now was the time to come clean.
“Tony, the only thing you said last night, was something about a Mighty Mouse stapler.”
His eyes narrowed and he cocked his head to the side. “What?”
Ziva avoided his gaze and fidgeted with an earring. “It was a prank,” she said and made eye contact again.
The incredulous look on his face made way for a small smile. He wagged a finger at her, and said, “That’s…not funny.”
Ziva shrugged and said, “I thought it was funny, considering you broke into my apartment last night and decided to crash on my couch.”
He scraped a hand through his hair, managing to make it look slightly more presentable. “Right. Well, that’s a relief, I guess.”
Ziva narrowed her eyes and took a step closer. “Are you implying sex with me would have been bad.”
Tony cleared his throat and grinned. “No, having sex with you and not remembering any of it would’ve been bad.”
The corners of her mouth twisted upwards and she quirked an eyebrow.
He headed for the door, then turned towards her. “Tell you what, why don’t I buy you breakfast. For your trouble…and to teach you how to properly prank someone.” He thrust out his chest. “ I’m the prank master at work.”
“Oh,” Ziva said with a smirk. “I’m sure your coworkers love you.”
He mock-laughed. “You’re seriously not funny. I’m going to shower and take some painkillers, while you get dressed.” He looked her up and down again and shrugged nonchalantly. “Or, not. I’ll be back in ten.”
Ziva opened her mouth to protest—she still hadn’t gone for her morning run—but he was already out the door.
For a few seconds she hesitated in the middle of her living room. She fussed with the hem of his shirt, then wet her lips. With a frustrated sigh, she headed for her bedroom to get dressed.
One skipped morning run wasn’t the end of the world. Besides, they could always get some exercise together later.