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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL: To One Yellow Rose.

A Bowl of Petals
By Jaina


She laughs as Tony hops out of the cab and runs around to the other side to open her door quickly, before she can. He bows with mock sincerity and helps her out of the car. She lets him and gives him a saucy grin as they walk towards the front door.

They've both had fun this evening. It's been months since she's seen him - eleven, in fact - and they're making up for lost time. Working on different sides of the country limits their contact now. With their schedules it's rather hard to catch up with a phone call, especially factoring in the time differences.

So Abby was very happy when Tony called her up last night and declared that he was flying into D.C. that night and would be taking her out for her birthday the next day. After some complicated bargaining to get what she wanted, Abby had allowed him to convince her. Fun and dancing is a must.

Now they're tired and a little drunk. She staggers in her high heels and bumps into his shoulder.

"Whoa there," he exclaims just a little too loudly and laughs. He glances down at her feet. "You know, Abs, I always wondered how you could walk in those things."

She grins and hopes that it comes off as mysterious and enigmatic instead of just goofy. "Every girl needs a talent, Tony. This one's mine."

He smirks comically. "You used to be good at other things too."

She slaps his shoulder, but it lacks any real force behind it. She's not angry just tired and it feels good to have a friend that knows her well enough to tease her like this again. Instead of answering, she wraps an arm around his waist, ostensibly to steady herself. Really she simply wants to be reassured that his solid presence is still beside her.

Since she saw Ziva those months ago, she's been feeling lonelier than ever.

Tony wraps his arm around her shoulders and gives it a light squeeze. For all his talk, she thinks that he's been missing her too. She can sense something behind all of the light conversation that he's been making tonight. He seems like her Tony, especially the old Tony before Jeanne got a hold of him, but something's not quite right. Even now, she can tell that. He's smiling just a little too brightly and laughing a little too hard. He's worried and she can't figure out what about.

She wonders if Jeanne's contacted him again. It happens from time to time and each time it rips the old wounds open again.

She's too tired, just now, though to pry it out of him. She resolves to do just that in the morning, so they can enjoy the rest of his time before he has to fly out in several days.

Tony coughs, and she looks up to see him grinning at her. "You gonna stand here all night," he asks with typical DiNozzo charm.

Abby feels a flush creep up her cheeks when she realizes that they're standing at her door already. She fishes out her keys.

"You know, the offer stands. Are you sure I can't convince you to stay with me? I have an excellent couch, bed, whatever."

Tony laughs, and she can see that he's sorely tempted by her offer. They're friends - good friends - and this wouldn't be the first time that they've fallen in bed together, but she can already tell that he won't be taking her up on her offer.

"Not tonight, Abbs," he says, shaking his head ruefully. He leans forwards to kiss her on the cheek. "I'll come by to pick you up for breakfast tomorrow morning."

She nods. "Sure, my treat," she agrees.

He scowls and she wags a finger at him. "You took me out tonight. It's the least I can do."

"Birthdays don't count," he counters and then adds, "And it was my pleasure."

She lets it go with a smile and nod, before she slips inside. She watches Tony walk back down the steps and slip into the cab. She sees him already on his cell phone as he gets in the cab and she can't help wondering again what's on Tony's mind. From the look on his face, she can tell that it must be something serious.

Abby frowns and then turns away. She makes her way back towards her bedroom. She freezes when she sees a pile of books laying on the floor in the middle of the hallway. They'd been standing neatly stacked against the wall for weeks.

She pulls her phone out of her pocket and speed dials Tony, fear clenching like a fist in her stomach. The phone rings and she takes another step forward. She knows she should leave - go outside and wait for Tony until he can get back there, but something is drawing her further down the hallway. She stops, takes a deep breath and then steps into the bedroom.

The room is dark as she left it. Abby reaches to steady herself on the door frame until her eyes can adjust to the darkness and jerks her hand away when she feels something damp and sticky under her fingers. She blinks a few times trying to figure out what it is before she sees a figure lying on the bed.

She shrieks. Abby regrets it as soon as the sound leaves her mouth, but really it's the last thing that she expects to see.

A loud voice against her ear suddenly tells her to leave a message after the beep and she closes her cell phone. She's still not sure who's invaded her home, but suddenly this seems more like a Three Bears type situation than a life threatening type situation, and if it's the former then she can probably handle it herself.

The figure on the bed stirs and groans. It's enough for Abby to realize that the person's in pain. She takes a step forward gingerly.

"Are you-"


The whisper that cuts her off mid-question is barely audible, but it's enough for Abby to realize exactly who is currently in her bed.

"Ziva?" Her disbelief is readily apparent in her voice. And then Abby remembers the way that she'd groaned in pain moments ago.

"You're hurt." It was a statement. "Where are you hurt," she asked as she crossed to the bed and dropped down on her knees next to it. "Do you need-"

A hand covered her mouth and muffled her words.

"You still ask too many questions."

Ziva's voice wasn't as strong as usual, but Abby instantly relaxed. If she could still grumble and tease, she wasn't in imminent danger of dying. She could deal with anything else.

Abby considers licking Ziva's hand again. They do seem to find themselves with Ziva's hand over her mouth fairly often, but instead, she settles for gently pulling at Ziva's wrist until she drops her hand.

When she does Abby simply stares at Ziva. It's a tactic that she learned long ago. It's not that Ziva doesn't know an interrogation tactic when it's used on her; it's just that there's something about Abby's eyes that she can't resist.

"I was-" Ziva hesitates, clearly considering what she can say, "I was shot at, along with several other Mossad agents. I thought it best to go into hiding for a while. I was only grazed by a bullet. It hurts when I move."

Abby considers what she has and hasn't said.

"So you came here?"

"Yes." Ziva pauses. "No one would think to look for me here. I would never put you in danger, Abby. I promise you that."

Abby nods. Ziva has always been protective of her. The traitorous voice in her head reminds her that there was one promise Ziva made her - a very long time ago - that she didn't, in fact, keep. But now isn't the time for that.

Instead, she sits down carefully on the edge of her bed. She'd traded in her coffin a few years ago. "How long can you stay," she asks quietly. Her mind is spinning.

"A few days - possibly a week. I cannot stay too long." Ziva's mouth twists into a grimace. "I have duties that I cannot neglect for long."

"Okay." Abby says simply. She should probably be freaking out about this, she knows, but she's not. Not yet. It's surprising how much she still trusts Ziva.

She stands and goes into the bathroom to get the first aid kit. Over the years, she's definitely picked up decent first aid skills, so she spends the next few minutes cleaning Ziva's wound and bandaging it. She grimaces at the sight of the raw, torn flesh, and the oozing blood. After she puts on the bandage she applies gentle pressure.

Ziva lets out a hiss and Abby looks up in time to see her grimace of pain.

"I'm sorry. I wanted to make sure the bleeding stopped."

Ziva lays her hand over Abby's on her wound. "It's okay," she says with a shake of her head. "Thank you, for mending me back together."

Her old familiar misuse of an idiom makes Abby want to smile. It's something that she very much associates with Ziva in her mind and she's grown very fond of it. So instead of saying anything, she does what she's very much been wanting to do since she realized that it was Ziva in her bed. She leans over and kisses her.

From the way Ziva responds, Abby can tell that she's not the only one who has been wanting to do this. She lets herself get lost in the kiss, savoring the feel of Ziva's lips on hers, until her cell phone rings shrilly. Abby groans in frustration but sits back slowly, breaking the kiss.

She huffs when she sees that it's Tony calling and then remembers that she called him first. She opens the phone and quickly answers.

"Yeah, Tony."

"You rang?" He does a passable Lurch imitation that at any other time would have amused her greatly.

"Yeah, I'm sorry." She thinks quickly for a lie. "I hit the wrong button on the speed dial."

"Uh-huh," Tony says with a tone that indicates he doesn't believe a word she's saying. Apparently she hasn't gotten any better at lying to him than she used to be.

She winces and sees Ziva give her a puzzled look. Abby waves at her distractedly, and turns away, grasping for anything to say that will convince Tony of her credibility.

"Look, Abbs, I really don't care, okay?" He lets her off the hook, easily. "But you'd tell me if something was really wrong, right? I mean, that's what old friends are for."

That makes her consider, just for a moment, telling him that Ziva is there, but it's only for a moment, before she remembers just how bad of an idea that would be. "Yeah, Tony," she forces herself to say. "Of course I would."

"Okay," he accepts it lightly, though she can tell he's still worried. "See ya tomorrow."

She closes the phone with a sigh and turns back to face Ziva.

Ziva's looking down at the pattern of the duvet with more concentration than it really warrants.

"That was, DiNozzo, yes?"

"Yeah," Abby says softly. "He's in town for my birthday."

"I should have brought you something," Ziva says wistfully.

"You probably had a few other things on your mind," Abby responds dryly.

Ziva's gaze is straying around the room now, until Abby notices it land on something just over her shoulder. She turns, curious to see what Ziva's staring at.

She scans her dresser, but doesn't see anything of interest until Ziva comments.

"You enjoyed your flowers."

It isn't a question; she can see the glass bowl full of dried black and yellow petals sitting in plain view. Abby feels a hint of a blush creeping up her cheeks.

"I did." She hesitates. "I just wanted a reminder that it really happened."

Ziva slips a hand into the inner pocket of the leather jacket that Abby had eased off of her to check her injuries. Her hand curls around something and then she opens her fist to Abby.

Abby blinks when she realizes that it's the pack of matches that she left on the bar for Ziva to find in the hotel in Paris.

"You kept this." She knows the danger of Ziva carrying something like this with; something that puts her somewhere at a particular time and place. She knows how much this means and she can't quite believe that Ziva still cares this much. Once upon a time, yes, but now...

She blinks and sits back down on the bed.

"You know, Ziva, I think this is one of the best birthdays I've had in a long time."

Ziva smiles, that sweet, but slightly dangerous smile that's always made Abby's heart race. "Oh, I think perhaps we can make it better."

Abby laughs, because she's missed Ziva so damn much. She never thought they'd be able to do this again and even with lying to Tony and Ziva's injury this is about as close to perfect as she's had in a long time.

The End

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