You Can’t Play a Player

Title: You Can’t Play a Player
Author: Keira Marcos
Big Short Prompt: Anthony DiNozzo, Jr.
Fandom: NCIS
Genre: Gen, Boxed In Tag
Word Count: 1,354
Warnings: No beta
Summary: Losing isn’t an option for Anthony DiNozzo, Jr. You can probably blame his father for that.

* * * *

His arm was killing him, and Ziva’s little lie about him having a scratch grated, more so for the fact that Tim thought it was funny, and Gibbs was ignoring the entire thing. He’d later chalk it up to a mixture of frustration, pain, and a nagging cold deep in his chest that reminded him of the plague and sweet, fierce Kate who had pretended to be sick so she could stay with him in the isolation chamber. But he stood and walked over to Gibb’s desk with his medical paperwork—paperwork he’d have normally submitted himself. He rarely made Gibbs do the stupid shit. He dropped the packet in front of the Lead Agent and raised an eyebrow when Gibbs frowned.

“I’m on desk duty for the next week, then I’m required to have six hours of rehab to ensure the muscle is healed before I can requalify with my weapon.”

Gibbs frowned. “For a scratch?”

DiNozzo blinked in innocent surprise then turned to Ziva. “You lied to Gibbs, too?” He watched her pale because Gibbs stood so fast his chair hit the cubicle wall. “It’s all fun and games, Officer David, to lie to McGee but it’s inappropriate and a violation of NCIS protocol to lie your team leader. I’d have thought you knew better.” He turned back to Gibbs. “As I stated in my report, Gibbs, she fired her weapon in the container after I explicitly ordered her not to and a bullet ricocheted off the wall and went through my arm.”

Gibbs glanced from Tony to Ziva, clearly furious. “You disobeyed orders, wounded your partner, and lied to me about it?”

“It was a joke,” she said weakly. “I accurately detailed the incident in my report.”

“And you think taking my Senior Field Agent out of the field a joke?” Gibbs asked then raised a hand when she started to speak. “No, it’s obvious you did think that was a joke. You’ve put the whole damn team out of the field!” He huffed.

“McGee and I can handle…”

Gibbs laughed, but it was bitter and dark. “DiNozzo has four times your combined experience in the field and in law enforcement.” He picked up the packet. “Does this include a reprimand for disobeying orders?”

“No, sir, as I was told by the Director, Ziva is a liaison so neither you nor I can put a reprimand in her file with NCIS,” Tony said and refrained from grinning when Mt. Gibbs went silently nuclear right there in the bullpen.

Gibbs stormed out of the bullpen and headed for the Director’s office without another word. Tim looked confused and a little petulant. Ziva was obviously furious. Tony walked back to his desk, sent off his reports with a click of his mouse, logged out of his computer, and picked up his phone to input some dates on his calendar getting the stitches removed and setting up his mandatory rehab sessions. He also made a date with himself for the range on Friday.

“Why did you do that?” Ziva demanded.

Tony finished inputting his note aware that Gibbs had returned but wasn’t visible. He could smell the man’s aftershave—he didn’t know how McGee or Ziva missed it. “Do what?” He looked up.

“Gibbs,” she hissed and waved a hand. “Why did you do that?”

“Because I’m a grown man and I don’t lie to Gibbs. I’ve never lied to Gibbs and the day I feel the need to lie to the man—I’ll resign and take one of the many standing offers I have with various federal agencies.”

Tim scoffed. “Who’d want you?”

“Homeland Security, the FBI, ATF, CIA, and NSA to name but a few,” Gibbs said as he dropped the report on Tony’s desk and opened the file. “He could practically write his own ticket at any one of those agencies, including the FBI which is amazing since they’ve tried to arrest him for murder.” He signed the document. “Ziva, be here early. We’re having a long conversation with Sheppard.”

DiNozzo just closed the file and out it in his out tray. He’d have to take it to HR in the morning as most of the building was already closed for the day. After rummaging through his drawer with one hand looking for his bottle of Advil and finding nothing, Tony stood and picked up his coat. The coat Ziva had ruined—it had been a favorite, so it was annoying. Even if it could be repaired, he doubted the wool would ever be the same because of the blood. Just getting out the stain would distress the material and make it look rough, worn.

“Let me help,” Tim said and took the coat from his hands. “I’m…”

A weak-willed boy, Tony thought but didn’t say. Tim had potential, but the younger man was allowing it to drown in personal insecurity and professional arrogance. Psychologically, it was fascinating, but Tony had already decided to cut his losses on the McGee front. He’d invested too much time in training the younger man, and it had been essentially for nothing.

“Thanks, McGee.” He slid his good arm into one sleeve and let Tim drape the other over his shoulder. It was better than nothing.

“Can you drive?”

“Abby is going to drive my car home for me,” Tony said. “I’m off-duty for two days, and I’ll be able to drive after that, I hope.”

“What about dinner at my place?” Ziva questioned.

Tony knew her game well enough. The team dinner without him had only been a part of it of her play. Operatives like Ziva weren’t trained to function in team environments like NCIS fostered so David had been separating out the different parts into little sections she could handle. Manipulate Gibbs with the lost little girl act, intimidate Tim with skills he’d never learn in a million years and seduce Tony whom she believed to be a known womanizer. Abby, Ducky, and even Jimmy were Ziva’s version of non-combatants. She’d protect and coddle them as long as it served her purpose.


He turned to look at her. Her game was solid, Tony had to admit. She was a beautiful woman, and she used it to her advantage. He bet she always had—a pretty little girl who gained favor with slyness and false charm. Eli David had certainly done a number on his only living child—spy, assassin, and seductress. Tony wasn’t one to judge on that front, he’d whored himself for the job as a cop once and quite a few times for Uncle Sam when he’d started working for NCIS. Sex was a commodity, and he’d acknowledged that long before he’d put on a badge.

Since Tim had drifted back to his desk, Tony leaned on his desk and stared at her. “I only fuck women for the job, sweetheart, so you’re going to have to figure out another way to manage me.” He grinned when Tim choked on the water he’d been drinking. Ziva’s mouth had dropped open. “I don’t care about your Daddy issues or you little ninja skills either.”

“Tony!” Abby bounced into the bullpen. “Gibbs called me and ordered me to take you home. I told him I’d already agreed to drive your car home and he said he’d bring pizza in an hour.” She checked her watch then glanced around the bullpen. “What’s going on?”

“Ziva invited me to dinner but I’m just not in the mood for what she had on offer,” Tony told her with an innocent smile.

Abby smirked. “She’s a great cook, but I can see how you wouldn’t find it all that appealing.” She grabbed the hand of his good arm. “Come on, Gibbs will make sad faces at me if we’re not there when he gets there and I said I’d stop and get beer as long as you’re not taking a prescription pain pill. You’re not, right?”

“No, I can’t even find my Advil,” Tony complained and offered Ziva a little wink as Abby guided him toward the elevator.

He’d teach their little spy a lesson or two, one way or another.

The End

Author’s Note:

The Big Short is a short-form writing challenge hosted on Rough Trade’s forum, The Workshop. The prompts come in two forms — a word challenge (the theme) and a single character challenge. I post my responses to the prompts on the forum first and eventually they’ll make it to my website. Each is a stand alone piece with no potential for expansion.

These short works are NOT prompts! These are my responses to the forum prompts. No, you cannot use them as prompts. No you cannot continue my short work with a longer work or write a sequel. For fuck’s sake.

Keira Marcos

In my spare time, I write fanfiction and lead a cult of cock worshippers on the Internet. It's not the usual kind of hobby for a 40ish "domestic engineer" but we live in a modern world and I like fucking with people's expectations.


  1. That’s awesome, i love the fact that even if you didn’t write a slash tibbs fic you manage to make Gibbs cool and defending of Tony.
    Usually gen fics, well a lot of them, treat Gibbs as a bad boss.

    So thanks for that. And thanks to share.

  2. Is it bad that I never get tired of Ziva getting her comeuppance??

    Love it!!!

  3. I’m not sure the way I enjoy Ziva!smackdonws is all that healthy…, plus DiNozzo is one of my favorite characters of any fandom, so couldn’t make it better.

  4. Nimue of the North

    This is all kinds of awesome. I especially like Tony’s innuendo about his limited interest in women, sometimes subtle holds more punch. Thanks for a perfect ending to my Sunday!
    Also: I very much like the new look of your site.

  5. Lovely. Wonderful read for a Sunday afternoon.

  6. Ah, if only they’d written Tony that smart. It was the one reason why I stopped watching.

  7. Too damned bad that Tony hadn’t called Ziva on her duplicitous actions from the get go.

  8. That was an awesome way of dealing with all of Ziva’s BS!

  9. I love how you Tony played the situation. Smart Tony is aways a turn on.

  10. Thank you for sharing, I really like how you can take a few words and paint a picture of personality and history. Plus that awesome Ziva smack down which was (I’m not sure it I’m picking the right word) subtle.

  11. “I only fuck women for the job.” Great line.

  12. So awesome love Gibbs taking little miss honey pot to task. Lady you rock.

  13. thank you for making Boxed In about Ziva’s behaviour in the field and her manipulations of the team to insert herself in their dynamic – rather than about Tony’s fragile emotions and reaction to a manufactured rejection.

    Also, I love that Tony only fuck women on the job. We all know how good he is at his job, after all 🙂

  14. Thank you for healing a part of my heart that has been broken for Tony repeatedly over the years. This kinda made my day.

  15. Zing!!! Concise, concrete and correct. Sit on that, David. I love how you talk Tony; no dumbing him down as the frat boy or laying him down like a doormat. Thanks for sharing it.

  16. Go Tony!

  17. Very good. Thanks for sharing.

  18. This was amazing and satisfying. That episode has always bugged me, and this fic is going into my own personal head canon 🙂 Thanks for sharing the awesomeness!

  19. Love your strong Tony. A great short!

  20. Now THAT is the Tony I see, So very well written – not an unnecessary word. I could actually visualise it all, like an episode running in my head.

    Many, many thanks. You are the best.

  21. Now that was long time coming and I enjoyed it to bits:DDDDDDDDDDDD

  22. Sly, edgy secure Tony is great! I hate what they did with Ziva’s character on the show – it was like they couldn’t decide who and what she was supposed to be. At least you make her consistent! I can understand her motivations in your NCIS universe/s.

  23. Awesome. Much prefer this to the way Canon played out 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  24. greywolfthewanderer

    <3<3<3<3 this just totally made my day!!! I never get tired of watching Ziva's nasty little plans fail totally.

    not to mention the snark was delicious!!! wheeeee! *does the Happy Dance*

  25. I did a little Snoopy Happy Dance reading this one! <3

  26. Smack down Ziva. Stun Tim. Get Gibbs to chew out the Director. And, have Abby drive his car home. Good day’s work, Tony. 🙂

    Great story. Thank you.

  27. Loved it. Another great story from these prompts, they are all so exciting. I love the way you write Tony. I really canon had gone this way. Thanks for the story.

  28. Yes! All the yes, god, so much needed to be fixed in that show, I’m so happy you write these that make me feel better about, well… all the things! x

  29. Love this story. I always like it when Tony gets the upper hand.

  30. This hit all the right notes. Bloody fantastic!

  31. Oo, snap! So glad to see such a take-down.

  32. Lol. That was a joy.

  33. I cheered. Literally.

    Complete with a fist pump and crowd sound effects.

    Bam! Smackdown in *style*.

  34. That was everything you expect in a great short story.
    Character with bite!

  35. My unending love for Ziva smackdowns is probably not healthy – but this felt sooo good.

    “I only fuck women for the job” – best line in this fantastic short.

  36. Keira, your stories are superior to anything tptb put out on tv.
    I much prefer reading.
    This one had me cackling and grinning like a Loon. Apparently my neighbours sometimes hear me. LOL

  37. Brilliant, especially Mt Gibbs.

  38. I read the first paragraph or so thinking it looked like it would be one of the best comment fics on this episode, but by the time I reached the end, I knew it was probably THE best ever. There is so much to love, particularly Tony cutting his losses regarding Mcgee, and the way Ziva was cut off at the knees. I really, really wish this version was canon. Thank you.

  39. greywolfthewanderer

    think this is my 3rd reading? still totally epic Ziva trashing! I much prefer your canon to the telly canon. w00t!

  40. Love your Tony, he is the best!

  41. I wish the series had gone in this direction. Wonderful work!

  42. Aaaaaaand now I’m going to read all your other NCIS fic. This was great! I don’t even watch NCIS and I got a good grasp of the characters and team dynamics in this brilliant short. Thanks!

  43. Thank you. This is the Tony I love. So few words to say so much.

  44. Love this!

  45. Someone is going to need to ice that burn for her, that’s gonna hurt. 😀

  46. Hot damn but that was satisfying! And Abbey wasn’t a complete Twat. (yes, the capitals were necessary) This was very (in my head the very was underlined like 6 times) satisfying and cathartic. I alway (more underlining) love it when Ziva and Tim get theirs. And wow, but their faces! And when Tony comes out as being gay!!! OMG that was priceless! Thanks for shaing!!

  47. Ha! That was awesome. That’s the DiNozzo I love–“Work smarter, not harder,” indeed. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  48. Reading this again, I am rather meanly pleased at how he decided to cut his losses with McGee. No more joking and reaching out, just hard-assed boss who expects you to learn your shit.

  49. Always love fics with a competent badass Tony! And Gibbs supporting him is the cherry on the sundae.

  50. I always enjoy your “Tony-ies”

  51. I have been looking for this story again for a while. I could have sworn it was Jilly’s, but yeah. I can’t get enough of a Tony that knows his own power.

  52. Ah, now if only that episode went that way. It would have been as good an ending to watch as this story was to read.

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