First time he said it? It started out as a throw-away remark at a frat party, where else? Bobby Milner asked if he wanted to go on a double date; twin sisters, Candy and Tracy Lovell…why not?
The play on his name didn’t occur to him until that night, and when it did he knew he’d be using it more than once. Tried it out on a few of the sorority girls, they seemed to like it, come to think, it rarely failed, at college or since. Became his fall-back position; take the lead in planning Spring Break, why not? Had fun too. Ask Wendy to marry him, why not? Turned out to be a bad idea. Leave Baltimore P.D. and join Gibbs at NCIS, why not? Turned out to be one of the best moves he ever made. Working there, it made him a better person most of the time, couldn’t help slipping back into frat mode every now and then; he wouldn’t apologise, it’s who he is, you have to take him as you find him.
Mostly people had been okay with that, no reason they wouldn’t be, he’s a likeable guy who tries to do right by people, so long as they do right by him. For a long time his live and let live philosophy worked just fine, even if it wasn’t always fair winds and following seas. Plenty of women fell for the DiNozzo charm, a few were immune, Kate…she was a great partner, could have become a life-long friend, but a lover…he knew she would never have trusted him enough to lower all of her defences. Never even got the chance to try all his moves on her, losing her almost sent his ship onto the rocks.
Then there was Jenny; she was tough to read, and he made a big mistake with her, misunderstood her motives; when she asked him to go undercover, to tell no one, he said, why not? Should have said no, not unless my team know what’s happening, can be there to back me up if necessary. If he’d told them, talked it through with Gibbs, maybe things would have turned out better, and maybe Jeanne wouldn’t have been hurt. He got too close, started to think there could be something for them when the op was finished; she cared for him, least she cared for Tony DiNardo, he thought he could make her care for the real Tony, would have tried too, why not? Here’s why, Jeanne hated him, hated what he’d done, all the lies he’d told…when he looked her in the eyes at the end, he knew that’s what it was, the end.
Threw him off his game for a while, didn’t stop him seeing women, lots of them, it was just…when he saw them, had drinks, dinner, dancing, that was all it was; didn’t finish up in the bedroom, not for months, Couldn’t go on forever and it didn’t, eventually he got back in the saddle again, it was good, but it wasn’t great. Not even with Ziva, with her things were always so…complicated.
He kept telling himself he wouldn’t go down that road again, but she’d been a big part of his life for eight years, he couldn’t pretend…He’d lost count of the times he’d almost kissed her, told her how he felt, the times she’d turned on him with real violence, treated him like he was nothing and then...she’d looked at him like he was the most important person on the planet. And they had Paris, what a night that was, all because of a bottle of fine champagne and him saying, why not? Only worked that one time, after that, they started to get…was closer even the right word, deeper maybe? He had no idea, he did know he loved her and sometimes…not often enough, but sometimes he thought maybe she had feelings for him. Then there was Rivkin and Adam…honestly, he never really knew where he stood with Ziva.
If she’d said the word when he found her in Israel, when he’d put his life on hold to find her, he’d have done anything, almost anything. If she’d asked him to stay, would he have done it, left his life behind to be with her? Truth is, at that time, given the way he was feeling then and there, looking into her eyes, he might have stayed, and he’d have been wrong. He didn’t see it for a while, it was only after he joined the men’s support group and the old ‘why not’ DiNozzo reappeared that he understood just how wrong it would have been to stay with her. She didn’t need him, Ziva needed to find out who she is and what she wants without anyone muddying the waters, and him…he came to realise she wasn’t for him; in small doses, on their own terms they could be good together, a long term relationship; only in his wildest dreams could he see a settled future for them. They were better apart, and he hoped she could find the right man to share her life, he’ll be a lucky guy.
As for him, he already had plenty of good things, good people. The job, the team, they meant everything to him; they gave him the stability his life had lacked since…heck, since as long as he could remember. Gibbs, Abby, Ducky, Tim, they’d been the constants in his life when so many others had come and gone. His parents had always had baggage of their own and a lot of it had been passed to him, he’d tried to ditch some of it, not always successfully, especially when his dad kept turning up unannounced, but these days he felt lighter somehow, like he had less of a burden to carry.
He was growing, finally, after years of trying to act like being a mature adult was something to shy away from, he was ready to try something new. Could he do it, break free from the DiNozzo family tradition of broken relationships and erratic behaviour? He had thought his last chance had gone, chances…more than one lovely lady would have been happy to have his ring on her finger, none of them was for him, heck, he couldn’t even bear to have them share his bed let alone his life. Not until Zoe; it had taken a lot of growing up for him to see how good they were together, time away from her felt like time wasted…
Maybe it was high time to buy a double bed, have his special someone spend the night at his place for a change? Not that there was anything wrong with Zoe’s bed, she had good taste, and not just in men. The bed was comfortable, the décor subtle and understated, as for Zoe, she was good for him; fun, feisty, mature, caring…sexy, very, very…She stirred a little in her sleep, a contented smile on her face, He leaned over and kissed her, light and gentle, he didn’t want to wake her, just wanted to let her know he was by her side and it was exactly where he wanted to be.
Could he do it? This time, could he forge a strong, loving relationship that could stand the test of time? Why not?