DISCLAIMER: This is a fan fiction story written solely for the entertainment of the readers. All characters are the property of Donald Bellisario Productions and CBS.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is set before the events of the finale of season six. You can read up on the cast and the show @ http://www.cbs.com/primetime/ncis/bio/
BETAS: I want to thank the wonderful Betas who helped edit my errors, Danyelle, pocketnympho, Jessie, and Mammothluv who helped make my writing more polished with great suggestions and corrections.
SPOILERS: Ziva never dated the Mossad agent, Tony never killed the man, and Ziva's father isn't quite the monster he turned out to be on the show.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Close Protection Officer
By Lisa Countryman

 

CHAPTER ONE

All that kept going through Abby Sciuto's mind was that Gibbs was out of town. Gibbs was out of town, and she was in trouble. She wondered why trouble had a way of finding her when she was simply minding her own business.

Abby left work Saturday afternoon wanting adventure. Adventure on a lazy Saturday was a great idea because there would be no calls to the lab with Gibbs gone. Not such a great idea if that adventure ended up involving trouble.

She spent part of her day catching up on paperwork, which she hated, but that needed to be finished. With the paperwork happily completed, Abby had intended to celebrate with adventure. Now, she had adventure. Adventure and trouble, and Leroy Jethro Gibbs was out of town.

It started out so well. Abby had gone to the Black Orchid, a club known for its eclectic crowd and pumping dance music, and now she was definitely in trouble. Big trouble, huge trouble, in two words, Gibbs trouble.

Abby only had two drinks. They were wussie drinks, bottled hard lemonade. Technically, only one and a half wussie drinks. Halfway through her second lemonade she had started to feel "off." Off, in Abby's forensic experience, was never a good thing. It was a bad thing, and frequently, it was a very bad thing. And Gibbs was out of town.

So, Abby did the only thing she could think of; she marched up to Bear, the club bouncer who really did look like a rather large bear, and grabbed him.

Bear smiled warmly at the vibrant woman who usually stayed until closing. "Abby, leavin' early?"

Abby leaned as close to him as she could in the thick crowd. "Bear, someone roofied me," she said as she gripped his arm in one hand. The other hand was holding her half finished drink bottle, which was now evidence.

His eyes widened and he nodded to Freddy, the doorman, before moving Abby away from the crowd. "You sure?" he asked, concern evident. He knew how dangerous Rohypnol or other date rape drugs could be.

Abby raised both eyebrows in response and then placed her drink on an empty table. "Evidence," she said as a wave of dizziness washed over her. "Do not leave me alone," she ordered. She grabbed her cell phone and quickly sent a text message.

"You need to sit down," Bear said as he guided her into a chair. He waved over a coworker, a waitress named Cat. "Someone slipped her something," he said quickly.

"Want some water, sweetie?" Cat asked as she knelt in front of Abby. Like Bear, Cat looked a bit like her namesake. Her green eyes gave her features a feline quality.

Bear nodded. "Get her an unopened bottle of water," he said quickly. "Hurry."

"If I pass out, call 911." Abby leaned forward and rested her head in both hands.

"I won't leave your side," Bear said gently. He saw Cat run through the crowd and get a bottle from the bartender.

Cat made her way back through the crowd and showed Abby the unopened bottle, then opened it and handed it to the dizzy young woman. "Drink. It'll help."

Abby nodded, knowing the waitress was right, and took a huge swallow of water.


Gibbs was out of town for the weekend. That meant no new cases. That meant a bored Ziva David. A bored Ziva David was not a good thing. Ziva knew this fact, so she found projects around the house. Her current project was stripping down and cleaning four rifles from the back of her closet. Three of the rifles weren't even legal in the United States.

Her cell phone beeped and she pulled the message up. She was running for the door as soon as she saw Abby's message.

"911. DRUGGED. BLACK ORCHID CLUB 18 TH ST."

Ziva's red mini cooper sped through the DC streets in a blur. She dialed Abby's number as she blazed through a red light. Ziva lived off of Irving Street, only about two miles away. Unfortunately, the streets were designed before the Revolutionary War, with one way streets, 25 mile an hour speed limits, and frequent detours. That meant the two-mile trip usually took just over ten minutes. Ziva planned on arriving in less than five, less than four if she ignored every red light and went against traffic on a few rarely traveled streets.


Abby heard the phone ring but it sounded far away. She glanced at the table and struggled to answer. Her hands wouldn't work and she knew she didn't have long. "Ziva?" she asked groggily.

"Abby, listen to me very carefully. Stay with other people. Tell the management what is going on. Do not leave with anyone." Ziva was close to panicking, something that was unfamiliar to the trained agent. She was terrified Abby would be carried off by some attacker.

"Done and done. Hurry." Abby's words were slurred.

"Give the phone to whoever you are with," Ziva ordered. She could tell Abby didn't have long. There was pause and the sound of the phone being handled.

"Hello?" Bear asked.

"This is Officer David with NCIS, who am I speaking with?" Ziva sounded calm despite her pounding pulse.

"Uh, Bear. I'm the bouncer." He cleared his throat. "Abby doesn't look too hot."

"Well, Mister Bear, I am a mile away and I am putting you in charge of Abby's safety," Ziva said dangerously.

"Okay," Bear said slowly. Something in the woman's tone made him want to stand at attention.

"Put your hand around Abby's bicep. Now," Ziva ordered.

"Okay," Bear said as he gently took Abby's arm. "Got her."

"If your hand isn't on her arm when I get there, I will not be happy," Ziva said.

Bear swallowed hard. He had faced down more drunken patrons than he could count and never batted an eye. His instincts never failed him. He could sense danger and always knew when to call a fellow bouncer for back up. The woman on the phone scared him. "Yes, ma'am." He moved closer to Abby and handed her the phone.

"Ziva?" Abby was having trouble seeing.

"Hang on. I am almost there." Ziva's chest felt as if there was a steel band ratcheting tighter with each breath. "Stay with me."

"I'd like that," Abby said with a lazy grin. The drug was taking hold and her moods shifted like an autumn breeze. "Gibbs is out of town," she said, suddenly grouchy. "What's up with that?"

"Well, I am here," Ziva assured her coworker. She was not surprised when a patrol car pulled in behind her after she ran her third red light. She didn't even slow down. "Abby, I need to hang up for a minute. Stay with Mister Bear."

"Uh!" Abby stared at her phone, clearly offended. She looked up at Bear. "Gibbs is out of town and now my Ziva hung up on me." She sighed and leaned against his side.

Ziva dialed 911 with one hand as she continued along the street. As usual, she took command. "This Officer Ziva David, NCIS. I'm traveling southwest on Columbia road in route to a crime scene. We just passed 13th street. Notify the patrol unit currently behind me. Tell him to flash his lights off and on to signal me and then follow me to the scene."

She answered a few rapid questions and rattled off her ID number and there was brief pause as the two vehicles raced through the city while the dispatcher verified Ziva's identity and then the car behind her signaled. She increased her speed and tried to calm her breathing. Abby was smart. She wouldn't leave with anyone. Mister Bear would not leave Abby's side, of that Ziva was certain. She had put the fear of God into him, or at least, the fear of Ziva.

The crowd gathered outside the club was used to seeing police cars rushing through the Washington DC streets. They were not used to seeing red mini coopers take corners with tires squealing and practically on two wheels. They scurried onto the sidewalk as the mini cooper slid to a stop ten feet from the club's front door and a very scary, angry woman leapt from the car.

"Move!" Ziva ordered as she held her badge in one hand and her Sig Sauer P228 in the other. She glanced over her shoulder at the police officer as he quickly climbed out of his patrol car and looked around with a confused look. "Crowd control," she ordered gruffly.

"Oh, shit," Freddy the doorman said as he backed up. The woman plowing through the crowd obviously knew how to use the gun in her hand and she looked like she'd enjoy doing just that.

"Abby Sciuto?" Ziva asked, holstering her weapon.

The doorman pointed inside and pressed his back to the wall. "Holy crap," he whispered. The woman was hot, and dangerous, which somehow made her even hotter.

Ziva spotted the forensic tech almost immediately. She moved through the room quickly and knelt in front of her. "Abby?" She put her left hand on Abby's wrist, finding her pulse weak and thready. Her right hand gently cupped Abby's jaw.

"My Ziva!" Abby's grin was loopy and she appeared well past drunk. She looked up at Bear and snickered. "That's my Ziva."

Bear smiled, but didn't want to say anything that might anger the newcomer.

Abby smiled up at Bear. "She's hot when she's in pissed-off protection mode." Abby patted Ziva's chest, her fingers lingering dangerously close to the cleavage peaking from under the V-neck tee shirt. "My Ziva," she said again, staking her claim.

Ziva cleared her throat. "That is right, and your Ziva is going to keep you safe." She studied Abby's eyes. Even in the dim lighting of the club the pupils shouldn't have been completely dilated, but they were. She kept her hand under Abby's jaw and looked up at the man next to her friend. "Mister Bear?"

He nodded and then glanced at his own hand, still firmly around Abby's arm. "I didn't leave her side."

Ziva stood and took her hand off Abby for the first time. She reached into her jacket and took out a business card and handed it to him. "You have earned my gratitude, Mister Bear. Don't hesitate to call if you need anything."

He released Abby's arm and took the card and tucked it into his jacket. He knew people, and something told him that if major shit ever truly hit his own personal fan, the card would be extremely valuable.

"Come on," Ziva said gently. She pulled Abby to her feet and wrapped an arm around her. "Who gave you the drink?" she asked. She pulled a glove from her pocket and carefully picked up the bottle with one hand.

"Bartender," Abby said as she leaned into the warmth of Ziva's compact, muscular frame. "Why, you wanna buy me a drink?"

"Did you leave your drink unattended?" Ziva asked. She squirmed when Abby's hand around her waist moved under her shirt. Abby's fingers slowly traced patterns on the exposed skin, leaving gooseflesh in their wake.

"I don't think so…" Abby's voice trailed off. "You taking me home?" she asked when she noticed that they were walking toward the door.

"You are going to the ER," Ziva informed her friend.

"No." Abby's eyes widened. "I hate hospitals." She frowned and shook her head. "Hate 'em. Can't stand 'em." Her voice trailed off and she yawned.

"You are going to the ER," Ziva insisted. She sighed and softened her tone. "We need to make sure you are okay."

Abby crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. Her mind wandered quickly and she smiled at her friend and leaned closer. "It'd be more fun if you took me home," Abby said with a snicker. The drug was taking over, and now that Abby was safely in Ziva's capable hands, the evidence technician stopped fighting the effects.

"I'm sure it would," Ziva said patiently. She knew better than to argue with a drugged victim. "Thank you," she told the bouncer again. She guided Abby out the front exit. "Officer?" she called when she saw the man who had followed her to the scene.

"Ma'am?" he asked uncertainly.

"Officer… Plumber," Ziva said as she read the man's nametag. "Ziva David, NCIS. I will be dispatching an NCIS team. If you could detain everyone inside the bar, I would appreciate it."

"Uh, sure…" He stared at the Goth woman draped across the NCIS woman.

"She was undercover," Ziva lied as she managed to lean Abby against the hood of the mini cooper long enough to put the drink bottle into an evidence bag from her glove box. She then belted Abby into the passenger seat and started the car.

Abby leaned forward, struggling against the seatbelt. "Hey, wait… I really hate the hospital. Take me home. Ducky can come check me out," she said as they pulled away from the curb.

"I promise to take you home later." Ziva's eyes darted from the road to Abby's chest and she noticed her friend's breathing becoming slower and deeper.

Abby smiled and waggled her eyebrows. "We'd have a lot more fun if you took me home now." She let her eyes linger on Ziva's chest and the way her tee shirt clung to her curves. "You know what? You're very pretty," Abby said as she leaned a bit closer.

"And you are very drugged," Ziva replied.

"Yes, I am." Abby laughed and ran her hand across Ziva's arm. "But you are still very pretty." She frowned. "Not pretty…"

Ziva glared at her intoxicated friend for a moment before focusing on the street again.

"Not just pretty. Hot," Abby corrected. "Smokin' hot." She patted Ziva's arm a few times and then began petting the skin exposed by the short-sleeved shirt.

Ziva took a corner fast enough to toss Abby toward her.

Abby giggled and pulled the shoulder strap of the seatbelt under her arm so she could lean toward her friend. She rested her head against Ziva's shoulder. "You came to my rescue," she whispered sleepily. She scrunched her brows and rubbed her cheek against Ziva's bare arm.

"Of course I did," Ziva said. "I will always come to your rescue, Abby."

"Wow." Abby smiled as she played with Ziva's olive drab tee shirt. The thought of Ziva as her own personal knight in camo armor was comforting and a bit exciting. She moved her hand down Ziva's arm and then noticed way the tee shirt clung to Ziva's flat belly. It seemed perfectly reasonable to move her hand to Ziva's belly, so she did.

Ziva's eyes widened at the contact. Abby's touch was electric. She allowed the contact to continue, telling herself it was only because the tactile investigation was keeping Abby's attention focused. The fact that it sent fiery jolts through Ziva's senses was inconsequential.

Abby continued playing with Ziva's belly as the agent made calls to the other members of her NCIS team. She started with Ducky, wanting the medical examiner at the hospital as soon as possible. She called DiNozzo and McGee next, asking them to go to the bar while she took care of Abby.

"My Ziva," Abby whispered as she nuzzled her friend's arm and sighed. She swallowed hard and cleared her throat. "I don't feel very good." It was becoming difficult to keep her eyes open.

"I know." Ziva patted her leg comfortingly. "But you will soon."

Abby tucked her hand under Ziva's shirt and moaned. "You're so soft," she whispered with a yawn.

"Soft?" Ziva said indignantly. "I run every morning and do 200 sit-ups per day!"

"Soft skin," Abby explained. She laughed and squeezed Ziva's belly. "Very firm belly. Yum."

"Yum?" Ziva responded in a confused tone.

"Yum," Abby repeated. Her hand was now anchored to Ziva's tummy. The tips of her fingers nudged just under the waist of the pants.

Ziva had no reply for that.

She pulled into the hospital parking lot and left the car at the emergency doors usually reserved for ambulance unloading. As she half-carried Abby inside, she felt the tightness across her chest finally begin to subside.


"Abigail Sciuto," Ducky said as he rushed up to the ER desk.

"Curtain four, Ducky," the nurse said. She'd met the venerable man on many occasions. He was generally chatty when the circumstances warranted. She knew that the unconscious woman in curtain four was a coworker, so it didn't surprise her to see him so focused.

As Ducky moved the curtain aside, the sight that met him froze him in place. Abby was on the exam table asleep. She had Ziva's left hand in both of hers, tucked up to her chin. If the signs of affection weren't enough to give him pause, the Sig Sauer P228 that spun in his direction certainly did the job.

"Ah, Ducky." Ziva casually used one hand to tuck her handgun into its holster on her right hip. She eased back into the chair beside Abby and studied the sleeping woman.

"How is she?" Ducky asked. The fact that Ziva's hand never left Abby's didn't escape his watchful eyes.

"She is resting," Ziva said, her voice soft though her expression was stony. "Preliminary results are positive for Rohypnol."

"Urine test?" Ducky interrupted.

"Yes," Ziva said. "I had them draw blood as well to make sure we do not miss anything." She nodded to a box on the small table at one side of the room. "Two sets of everything so you can run your own tests. The bottle and its contents are there as well."

"Good. Good," Ducky said. "What is the concentration of Rohypnol in her system?"

Ziva actually growled then slowly turned toward him. "The bastard doctor refused to administer Romazicon. Abby shouldn't have to sleep this off."

"I take it her levels are low?" he asked.

"Yes. The Doctor thinks she probably ingested approximately one half milligram. One half of a full dose," Ziva said. "It was a generic version, pharmaceutical quality. I don't like the idea of that stuff in her." She grabbed Abby's chart and handed it to him. "And since they used the generic, there was no dye marker." She had to take a calming breath. Whoever drugged Abby must have known that the company that manufactured Rohypnol began adding dye to the center of the sleep aid to avoid its use as a date rape drug. The drug would turn any drink it was mixed into a bright blue color. Generic companies didn't bother.

Ducky scanned the report. "If the Rohypnol is indeed a low dose of pharmacy quality medication, and she's had less than a full dose, she should be alright. She's healthy, had limited alcohol ingestion and her vitals are strong," he said as he scanned the chart. "The Romazicon is a benzodiazepine antagonist. It is generally given only in the case of Rohypnol overdose." Ducky moved to the opposite side of the bed and felt Abby's pulse, needing to verify the chart. "Its effectiveness in counteracting low dose exposure is minimal at best." He shifted his focus and lifted one of Abby's eyelids. "I'd have to agree with her physician. The risk of adding more drugs to her system outweighs the possible reward."

Ziva's eyes narrowed and she moved a bit closer to the bed. Her chair scraped loudly across the tile floor as if expressing her frustration.

Ducky read the movement as an obvious sign of disapproval. "She's resting comfortably. We should let her body burn the drug out of her system," he said and then sighed. "Though she will have one doozy of a hangover."

They stayed silent a moment, each studied the woman on the bed, and their eyes were filled with concern and affection. Ziva's phone rang she quickly lifted it to her ear. "David," she said quietly.

"Any word on Abby?" McGee asked over the phone.

"She will be fine," Ziva replied, keeping her voice low. "What have you found?"

"Well, we just got here," McGee said defensively.

"And?" Ziva said angrily.

"And… the bartender said she gave Abby two hard lemonades. In bottles." McGee paused to move away from a group of people at the scene before continuing. "She said the new busboy helped her pull a fresh case from the walk in refrigerator right before she served the second bottle."

"Pull that case and get it to the lab," Ziva ordered.

"Already done," McGee said quickly. "I doubt the entire case is drugged," he said. "The bartender mentioned that the busboy opened the bottle meant for Abby."

"And what does he say?" Ziva asked.

"He doesn't say anything. We can't find him," McGee explained. "His name is Scott Landes. He started working here three weeks ago. Keeps to himself. Tonight was the first time he ever offered to open a drink for the bartender."

"He targeted Abby specifically," Ziva said darkly.

"Looks that way," McGee replied. "You, uh... still with Abbs?"

"Of course," Ziva said, deeply offended.

"Just checking. I need to go. The manager is pulling the busboy's records for me."

"Good. Keep me informed." Ziva hung up and her eyes were drawn back to Abby's sleeping face.

"It seems you're on guard duty," Ducky said as he gathered the evidence box. "I'll get these back to my lab to double check the findings."

"I am taking her home," Ziva said as she stood.

"I'm not sure that's wise." Ducky paused and turned back toward the bed.

"Will it put her in danger?" Ziva challenged.

"Well, no," Ducky admitted. "But given Abigail's current condition, transport would be problematic at best."

"She hates hospitals," Ziva said as she brushed Abby's hair away from her face. "I will not have her wake up here."

Ducky started to protest.

"And this is not a secure location." Ziva took a deep breath and released it with a determined nod of her head. The matter was decided. "You will help me transport her."

Ducky opened his mouth, paused, then took a breath as he debated arguing with the Mossad officer who had obviously made Abby's safety her personal mission.

"Fine," Ziva said angrily. "I will carry her."

"Wait." Ducky knew when he was facing an unstoppable force. "I'll get a wheelchair," he said with a shake of his head.

 

CHAPTER TWO

'My head is going to explode,' was the first thought that managed to dig its way to the surface of Abby's sleepy mind. She drew in a slow breath and snuggled into the soft bed beneath her. 'This is not my coffin bed,' was the second thought that surfaced. Now she was awake. She opened her eyes. It was mostly dark and she could make out an unfamiliar nightstand in an unfamiliar room. 'Okay, panic is definitely an option,' she thought with a gulp.

"You are safe, Abby," Ziva said in a gentle whisper.

"Ziva?" Abby sat up, regretting it immediately. "Ouch. Headache." She turned toward Ziva's voice. The young agent was sitting in a chair next to the bed. She had a blanket over her lap and looked like she had been sitting there for some time.

Ziva got out of the chair and sat on the edge of the bed so she was eye to eye with Abby. "How are you feeling?" She felt Abby's forehead then reached over and turned on the lamp next to the bed.

"Confused," Abby said as she blinked against the harsh light. "How exactly did I get here? And just where is here?" A wave of nausea hit. She put her hand over her mouth. "Tummy not happy," Abby said grouchily.

"Are you going to be ill?" Ziva stood quickly.

"No." Abby shook her head slowly, but groaned immediately. "Moving my head… bad. Very bad." She held her head between her hands and tried to give Ziva her full attention. "How did I get here? Where is here?"

"You are in my bed," Ziva said slowly.

Abby's eyes widened to the size of small saucers.

"You went to the Black Orchid last night and ingested Rohypnol," Ziva explained.

"If you were anyone else, I'd be asking about my virtue." Abby put both hands on her hips and allowed a tiny smirk. "Miss David, I was drugged and I ended up in your bed how exactly?"

"You sent me a text and I came to get you." Ziva blushed and looked down at the floor. It meant a great deal to her that Abby had called her, not Tony, who was the senior agent, and not McGee, who she had once dated.

"Oh my God," Abby yelled, but immediately squeezed her eyes shut. "Yelling bad. Very bad." She swallowed, holding back a wave of nausea. "I can't remember anything after leaving work last night." She lifted the blankets and saw that she was still wearing her own clothes and let out a relieved sigh. "Did you get to me before or after I passed out?"

"Before," Ziva said. She took Abby's wrist in her hand. "You felt the effects and told Mister Bear and called me."

"Mister Bear?" Abby scrunched her brows together. "Who the hell is Mr. Bear?"

"The bouncer…" Ziva said slowly.

"Oh, Bear." Abby sighed with relief. "Then you came and got me?" She smiled. "You saved me!"

"I took you to the ER." Ziva held up a hand to silence Abby. "They made sure you were okay and took samples. Then Ducky and I took you on the sheep." She smiled. "I know how much you hate hospitals."

Abby stared at her companion until understanding finally dawned. "On the lam," Abby said, explaining the correct idiom. " You took me on the lam. There's no b at the end. It's not an actual lamb that you ride to make your escape."

"You know, I did think that a sheep of any age would be a rather poor choice for an escape vehicle," Ziva said, her brow crinkled in confusion. "Who makes up these sayings?"

Abby laughed. "I don't know, I'm just glad you took me on the lam." She rubbed her face with both hands. "Thank you, for not leaving me there."

"I gave you my word that I would not." Ziva shrugged.

"Did you sleep in that chair?" Abby suddenly asked.

"No," Ziva said a bit too quickly.

"Did you sleep?" Abby asked suspiciously.

"No." Ziva cleared her throat. "You are in my protective custody."

"Ugh." Abby leaned over slowly until she had her head on the pillow. "I feel like crap," she added as she covered her eyes with her arm. "Wait… so, if you have me in protective custody, that means, one, you haven't caught whoever it was that drugged me." She didn't move her arm or wait for an answer. "Two, you think whoever drugged me was after me specifically and not just some random attack. And three, you suspect whoever drugged me is going to keep coming after me."

Ziva sat down and waited quietly to see if Abby would continue.

"Am I right?" Abby moved her arm enough to uncover her eyes.

"Yes," Ziva said honestly.

"Okay, seriously, I am getting really tired of every psycho in the entire country stalking me." Abby pulled the pillow in front of her and hugged it. She sniffled and buried her face into the soft fabric. It smelled like Ziva, which made her smile.

"Do you know a man named Scott Landes?" Ziva asked. She wanted Abby to focus on catching the attacker and not spiral into fear.

"Well, yeah," Abby sniffled and lifted her head.

"The busboy at the Black Orchid?" Ziva leaned closer.

"Not likely." Abby sat up, ignoring the pounding behind her eyes. "He's the lead guitarist for one of my favorite bands, Collide. They rock. "

"That is the name the busboy used on his application." Ziva reached for her phone.

"Could it be a coincidence?" Abby asked, knowing the answer before she asked the question.

"I do not believe in coincidences," Ziva said. "Who would know about this band?"

"Friends, lovers…" Abby's eyes widened. "Damn it, I've been careful. I specifically avoid creepy people who might stalk me later."

"I promise you I will find this man," Ziva said as she dialed. It didn't escape her keen observation skills that Abby had mentioned avoiding creepy 'people,' not men. In Ziva's experience, the use of gender non-specific terms was significant. She glanced at Abby and held her gaze. "Until then, you are not leaving my sight. I am now officially in charge of your safety." She waited as the call connected. "The busboy's name is an alias," she said as soon as DiNozzo answered.

"Nice greeting, Ziva," DiNozzo whined. "And yeah, we know that."

"Did you catch him?" Ziva demanded.

"No," he said glibly. "Hey, where'd you sleep?" The tone of his voice was as obvious as any leer. "Did you two have a pillow fight?"

"She was drugged, you pig." Ziva rolled her eyes.

"Kinky, David," Tony said with a snicker.

"What did you find?" She was tired of his attempts at humor.

"Ask me about Abby's lemonade bottle," he insisted.

"Tony," Ziva yelled.

"Volume," Abby said as she leaned into the pillow and covered her head. "Watch the volume."

"There were no finger prints on the bottle," Tony said in a chipper tone.

"And?" Ziva demanded.

"There were prints on the box it came from," Tony said smugly. "Admit it, Ziva, I'm good."

"The forensics team is good," Ziva corrected. "Did you ID the prints yet?"

"What prints?" Abby sat up. "Who processed them? Who's been in my lab?"

Tony sighed. "You hurt my feelings, Ziva. Acting like I'm helpless without the forensics technician." He sighed forlornly. "You think you're so smart, you tell me who the prints belonged to."

"If I had to guess?" Ziva asked. "Mikel Mawher."

Abby's face paled and her jaw dropped.

"Ugh." Tony was shocked and more than a little peeved. "No fair using your assassin Jedi mind tricks!"

"So it was him?" Ziva asked. She knew he was supposed to be in jail, but her instincts told her it was Mawher.

"Yes," Tony said, and then sighed. "You ruined my big reveal."

"How did he get out of jail?" Abby asked hollowly.

"Why was he released and why was NCIS not notified?" Ziva asked. She had personally contacted the department of corrections and had a note added to his file that NCIS was to be notified before Mawher was released.

Abby waved her hand to get Ziva's attention. "Hello? Victim here. I should have been notified, too."

"Ah, so the all seeing Ziva doesn't know something," Tony taunted.

Ziva cleared her throat.

"Fine," Tony relented. "According to corrections, Mr. Mawher is still in custody."

"Send someone to fingerprint the Mawher in custody," Ziva said as she stood and began pacing.

"Ha!" Tony said triumphantly. "Already did. It's not him. Some whack job named Sam Elliot, no relation to the mustached actor by the way, is sitting in Mawher's cell using his name."

"And when was this Sam Elliot released?" Ziva asked.

"The actor?" Abby swung her legs out of the bed and stood.

Ziva waved a hand toward Abby as she continued listening.

"Sam Elliot, not the actor, was released twenty-eight days ago," Tony said as his tone finally became serious. "Which means Mawher's had a month to get a bead on Abbs."

"She will be staying with me until we get this guy," Ziva said.

"He's probably already tracking her," Tony pointed out.

"Which is why I took the battery out of her cell phone before we left the hospital," Ziva said in a matter of fact tone. "And why I doubled back six times on the way here to check for anyone following me."

Abby's jaw dropped, leaving her gaping at her friend.

"This guy was pretty high tech last time," Tony pointed out. "He may have even bugged her."

"Which is why I ran my scanner over her when I put her in my car," Ziva explained.

"Sounds naughty," Tony said. "How come you never run your scanner over me?"

"The next time your ex-boyfriend is after you, I will," Ziva promised sweetly.

Abby allowed a small smile.

"You really know how to hurt a guy, Ziva," Tony said.

"You have no idea, Tony," Ziva said with playful menace. She glanced at her watch, seeing that it was 3:56 a.m., and then she looked back at Abby. "Text me if you get anything else. I am putting Abby back to bed."

"There is something truly wrong when I am chasing leads at four a.m. while you get to put a young woman to bed." Tony sighed. "Although, that does paint quite a picture."

"Pig." Ziva hung up the phone and placed it on the nightstand. "Back to bed," she ordered Abby.

"I need a potty break," Abby said as she started toward the door. "Whoa," she said as she stopped short. She ran her hand over the steel bar mechanism that held the door closed. Her keen eyes immediately noticed that there were steel bars bolted on each side of the door that had obviously been attached to the wall studs. These bars had heavy-duty brackets with a steel bar threaded through them. The steel bar also threaded through two brackets on the actual door, which was metal. Abby's mind immediately calculated the physics and she knew that a SWAT team with battering ram wouldn't begin to breech the door. "Okay, who did your medieval interior decorating?"

"I did some home remodeling," Ziva said a sly smile. She went to the door and led Abby in the opposite direction, pointing at another door. "Use the master bath," Ziva suggested. "I do not want you out there unless I do a perimeter sweep."

"Like anyone could break in without you hearing them," she said as she smacked Ziva's arm and went toward the master bathroom door. "You gonna show me how to unlock the bank vault to your bedroom?"

"Of course," Ziva said. She furrowed her brow. "Is it medieval or a bank vault?"

"Well, I'm all for the bondage-y feel of the medieval theme…" She glanced over her shoulder with a sexy grin for her friend. "But the idea of your bed being a treasure holds a certain appeal as well."

Ziva looked down at the floor as she felt her cheeks blush.

Several minutes later, Abby came out of the bathroom. She had splashed water on her face, but still looked relatively disheveled. She tugged at her top and then at her plaid skirt. "Got any jammies?"

"Jammies?" Ziva's confusion was clearly evident. "Are you hungry?" She wondered if her friend was craving toast.

"Pajamas," Abby said with a giggle. "Something to sleep in?"

"Ah." Ziva nodded in understanding. "No 'jammies.' Perhaps a tee shirt?" she inquired. When Abby nodded Ziva went to a drawer and got a black tank top for the other woman and gave it to her.

"I want to go to my lab in the morning. Well, in a few hours actually." Abby lifted the tee shirt and smiled. She had seen Ziva wear it on several occasions and always liked the way it clung to her body. She knew her own chest was larger than Ziva's so it would be an interesting fit. At least, she hoped Ziva found it interesting.

"The lab is not a good idea," Ziva replied. "You need to stay hidden."

"I'm not hiding while that psycho is looking for me," Abby insisted. She sighed and held the tank top to her chest and inhaled the fragrance of Ziva's detergent. It calmed her. She turned toward her friend. "Ziva, I have to help catch him. The last time I almost went crazy. I ended up getting completely hammered in Gibbs' basement!"

"I know," Ziva said. It was getting more difficult to hide her emotions. Seeing Abby suffer was tearing down the walls she had worked so hard to keep in place. The reasons for building those walls seemed less and less important. She took Abby's hands in hers. "This time is different."

Abby raised both eyebrows in question, which increased the throbbing behind her eyes.

"It is different because I am taking charge of your safety this time." Ziva leaned forward. "I am a trained assassin. I can think of every possible way to get to you before this Mikel Mawher can, and I can come up with ten counter plans for each method he might use to come after you."

Abby nodded. "Yeah, I guess you could." She studied Ziva's expression and saw only deep concern. "It's hard for me to imagine you that way now," she said. "When you first got here, after, you know, Kate…" She glanced down at the floor. "It's all I could think about. That you were a trained killer like him, Ari."

Ziva nodded, but remained silent.

"Now, you're just Ziva." Abby smiled at her friend.

Ziva met Abby's gaze. "When I came to get you last night, you called me your Ziva."

Abby's eyes widened and her mouth opened slightly.

"It was cute." Ziva shrugged and her eyes sparkled mischievously.

"And you didn't mind?" Abby managed to ask as she felt her cheeks blush.

Ziva let her embarrassed friend off the hook. "If I was drugged and you came to get me, I would probably call you my Abby." What she didn't say was that she'd want it to be true.

"Well, I am your Abby. Cuz, you know, we're friends and we're there for each other." Abby squeezed the tank top against her chest nervously. "I call you when I get drugged or stalked." She nodded toward Ziva. "And you call me when you've been framed for murdering FBI agents." She smiled. "It's a good deal."

"Yes, it is," Ziva agreed quietly, suddenly overcome with emotion. She remembered when she was hiding from the FBI and needed to find Gibbs. Abby was the first person she thought of calling. Ziva had known that Abby wouldn't let her down, and she had been right. Abby came through for her and helped clear Ziva's name.

Abby quickly pealed her top and bra off in one fluid motion and tossed both onto the nearby dresser. She paused, watching Ziva's reaction in a mirror a few feet away. Ziva's eyes darted to Abby's back, probably enjoying the large tattoo of a cross there, then Ziva seemed to realize she was gawking and looked away. Abby pulled the tank top on and smiled when she saw Ziva spin so she was facing the opposite wall. "I'm not bashful," Abby said with a chuckle. "But I do appreciate your discretion." She slipped out of her skirt to reveal black panties. "I'm sure you've seen other women undress before." Abby climbed into bed.

"Of course," Ziva said. When she turned there was a distant expression in her eyes and the corner of her mouth lifted for a brief instant, as she remembered several occasions, then she cleared her throat and made sure her expression was blank. She was actively not looking at Abby's cleavage, which the tank top accentuated nicely. The shirt was at least one size too small, which in Ziva's mind was just about perfect.

"Oh my God!" Abby pointed at her friend. "You are so busted." Despite her pounding headache, Abby was now in full busybody mode. "You've totally been with women. As in been with, been with."

Ziva blushed darker and went to the door and rechecked the steel bar. She could feel Abby's eyes on her back. She slowly turned and shrugged. "Is that a problem?"

"Well, yeah." Abby wiggled as she pulled the covers into place. "It's a problem because you so should have shared this with me."

"Excuse me?" Ziva froze like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming train. "Shared this with you?" she voice was a squeak.

"The information," Abby said as she began to giggle uncontrollably. "What, you think I'd just pounce on you?" She didn't add that jumping Ziva certainly had some merit.

"Ah," Ziva nodded in understanding.

"Wait." Abby sat up. "Now, I'm offended. Why does the idea of me pouncing on you give you the heebie jeebies?"

"Heebie jeebies?" Ziva's confusion was clearly written on her face.

"You were totally freaked out by the thought of me pouncing you!" Abby accused.

"Not freaked out." Ziva took a deep breath and let it slowly out. "Surprised. Surprised that pouncing on me would occur to you." She sat next to Abby and smiled disarmingly. "Now, sleep." She caressed Abby's cheek and tucked a few stray stands of hair behind her ear. She guided Abby back onto the pillows. "I will be here watching over you."

The gentle action left Abby dumbfounded. She opened her mouth to speak, but any smart-mouthed reply died on her lips. The tenderness in Ziva's eyes and touch caught Abby completely off guard. She nodded and relaxed into the pillow.

Ziva switched off the lamp and turned her chair to face the door.

'Wow,' Abby thought to herself. She could feel the energy in the room shift. Ziva's tenderness was replaced with a dangerous force that was tangible. She stared at Ziva's profile for several minutes. There was enough light in the room from the digital clock to let her see her friend's expression. There was nothing soft or gentle about Ziva as she sat guard. Abby cleared her throat, not wanting to startle the trained assassin.

"Are you okay?" Ziva turned and moved closer. Her eyes were instantly full of concern again. She moved to the bed and tucked her fingers under Abby's jaw.

"Fine." Abby smiled, knowing that Ziva was checking her pulse point. "I just wanted to…" She took Ziva's hand and pulled it away from her jaw and held it to her chest. "Thank you," she said sincerely, not releasing Ziva's hand. "I feel safe." That simple statement spoke volumes. The last time Mikel Mawher had pursued Abby, she hadn't even felt safe when she was locked in Gibbs' basement.

Ziva paused as she fought with her own inner demons. Finally she decided she could not deny her heart any longer. Abby Sciuto was a force of nature that Ziva had fought too long. She smiled and leaned her face down until she touched her forehead to Abby's. "You are safe," she whispered. She lifted her head and squeezed Abby hand. "As long as I draw breath, no one will hurt you ever again."

Abby swallowed, emotion suddenly overwhelming her. She stared a moment longer and only released Ziva's hand when the young officer turned toward the door to sit vigil. Abby sat in the darkness and wondered if Ziva had any idea of the effects of her words and actions. The chivalrous statement, made so simply, with utter sincerity, had shaken Abby to the core.

 

CHAPTER THREE

"Oh… my… God," Abby grumbled from under the blankets.

"Welcome back, sleeping beauty," Ziva said from her position beside the bed. She wondered if the previous night's drug induced amnesia would include the early morning discussion she had shared with Abby. "Do you know where you are?" she asked gently.

"I'm in your bed." The blankets moved downward and revealed eyes that were bloodshot and puffy from a day of drugged slumber. "But apparently, my head is in hell." Abby sat up with a groan. "Thanks for watching over me," she said in a gravelly whisper.

"You are welcome," Ziva said as she stood. "Do you think you could hold down some food?"

"Caf-Pow?" Abby asked hopefully.

Ziva shook her head. "Sorry. I can offer you coffee." She reached out and felt Abby's forehead briefly. "Last night you had a bit of a fever."

"Coffee is not Caf-Pow," Abby said. She yawned and stretched her arms over her head. "After a nice hot shower I'll be ready to head to my lab. McGee will get me a Caf-Pow."

"You can go into the lab tomorrow." Ziva stood and went to the door and unlocked the steel latch.

"Uh, no." Abby jumped from the bed completely ignoring the fact that she was wearing only a skimpy tank top and revealing underwear. "I told you last night, I need to help catch Mikel."

"Abby, the day is gone," Ziva said gently. She was doing her best to ignore Abby's lack of clothing. "Besides, all the evidence has been processed."

"How late is it?" Abby spun to check the digital clock. "Four thirty!" Abby exclaimed. "As in p.m.?"

"You needed to rest for the drug to burn off," Ziva reminded her. She looked down at the floor when the view of Abby's firm backside and the bottom of the tattoo peeking from under the tank top became a bit too tempting.

Abby turned and looked at Ziva as if seeing her for the first time. "And you just sat here the entire day, watching over me?"

Ziva nodded.

"You just stayed in this room all day long?" Abby couldn't believe what she was hearing.

"I promised that I would protect you. That is best accomplished at your side." Ziva motioned toward the master bathroom door. "I could loan you a change of clothes if you want that hot shower. I can make some phone calls while you shower and I will make you something to eat."

"Ah… yeah, sure," Abby said after a moment. "Then what?" she asked.

"Then you make yourself comfortable," Ziva said. "You are staying here until we capture Mikel Mawher."

"So you're my CPO?" Abby's lips twisted into a smirk.

Ziva dipped her head to hide her grin. "Yes, I guess I am." She cleared her throat and focused so she could stifle her smile. She looked at Abby with a stern expression. "And as your Close Protection Officer, I will keep you safe."

Abby raised one eyebrow and put both hands on her hips. "And do you plan on sitting guard every night?"

Ziva nodded and went toward her dresser.

"And do you plan on guarding me all day?" Abby asked.

"Of course," Ziva said as if Abby had suddenly lost a few IQ points.

"And just when are you going to sleep?" Abby asked.

Ziva took a deep breath and sighed.

Abby smiled triumphantly. "You may be some super-spy-agent-girl, but you are not invincible. You need to sleep, too."

"I will sleep when necessary." Ziva shrugged and removed some clothing from her dresser.

Abby moved across the room and stood next to the dresser. "Ziva, I need you to take care of yourself," she said quietly.

The genuine concern in Abby's voice made Ziva pause and turn toward the taller woman. "I will be fine," she said with a slight smirk.

"No, you won't." Abby grabbed both of Ziva's arms. "You'll be tired, and then you'll go out on some case and you won't be at your Ziva-best and some nasty bad guy, a bad guy who has been sleeping and is at his bad-guy-best will do something bad and you could get killed!"

Ziva smiled and bit her lip, and then put her hands on either side of Abby's face and lifted up on her toes so she could look into Abby's green eyes. "Abigail. Breathe," she said firmly.

Abby took a few deep, rapid breaths. Her eyes shined with unshed tears. "I don't want to lose another friend." Her voice cracked.

Ziva exhaled slowly, and then pulled Abby into a hug.

Abby let out a surprised squeak. Ziva had never initiated a hug. The surprise quickly wore off and Abby leaned into the hug reveling in the warmth and comfort of the smaller woman's compact body.

After a moment, Ziva lifted her chin so she could reach Abby's ear. "Caitlin wasn't tired or sloppy," she whispered. "This job comes with risk, but I promise you, I am always cautious."

Abby pulled tighter into the hug. "So was Kate," she said almost too quiet to hear. She sniffled and was surprised when she felt Ziva guide her to the bed. She scowled when Ziva released her hold and motioned for Abby to sit. Once Abby was sitting comfortably, Ziva sat next to her and joined their hands.

Ziva met Abby's eyes. "I am truly sorry for what Ari did," she said. Her shame was evident as her eyes darted away when Abby's attention became too intense.

"I never blamed you," Abby said as she took Ziva's chin and guided her friend's face back toward her. She paused, the striking darkness of Ziva's brown eyes holding her attention. She suddenly noticed that she still held her friend's jaw in her palm and wondered when it had become so natural to touch her.

"When I first arrived, I think you did," Ziva said. Abby's hand on her face made Ziva smile unconsciously and blush as she tilted slightly into the touch.

Abby suddenly felt her body flush with warmth. She became painfully aware of the intimacy of the situation so she removed her hand and cleared her throat. "I never blamed you." She sighed, embarrassed by what she was about to admit. "I resented you." She locked her green eyes with Ziva's brown. "I resented you sitting at her desk, reminding me that she was gone. I resented you for not being her." She sighed again, slowly releasing the breath. "When I let myself start to like you, I fought it. It felt like I was letting Kate down, betraying her." Abby shifted her gaze until she was studying her own bare legs.

"And now?" Ziva asked.

"Now?" Abby chuckled. She looked up and gave Ziva a genuine smile. "You're my friend, Ziva. I'm very glad you came into my life. I'm very, very glad you're my friend." She paused. "I just hate the way it happened."

Ziva nodded sadly. "As do I." She stood and moved back to the dresser and collected a pair of baggy green cargo pants and a tan tee shirt. "I have found a home at NCIS, and that surprised me more than anyone." She moved to the next drawer and opened it. "Bikini or hip huggers?"

Abby stood and both eyebrows rose high onto her forehead. "I love ya, Ziva, but sharing underwear? A little too intimate even for me."

Ziva turned and held up two pairs of underwear. "These are new, Victoria's Secret, never worn. Feel free to keep them." She smirked. "Did you really think I'd offer you my…"

"Oh." Abby blushed and moved closer. She studied the jade green bikini underwear and the black hip huggers. "Victoria's Secret? You are full of surprises." She took the bikini underwear and turned them over in her hands. "Silk? So is this what well dressed NCIS agents wear?"

"You will have to ask Gibbs that. I think he prefers a pink thong," Ziva said mischievously and then she spun and went into the hall, leaving Abby alone in the room.

"Ziva in silk, wow," Abby whispered. She closed her eyes and sighed. 'Do not picture Ziva wearing these,' she thought to herself, which only caused the image of Ziva in the green panties to race into Abby's mind. She imagined the way the green silk would compliment Ziva's dark coloring. Then she imagined how the silk would feel warmed by Ziva's skin. "I did not need to think about that," Abby whispered as she headed into the master bathroom to take a much-needed shower. She realized if she kept thinking about Ziva in the silk panties, she'd have to make it a very cold shower.


"No, I have it covered," Ziva said into her phone. She had a pad and paper and was taking notes as she listened.

Abby paused as she came into the room, not surprised when Ziva spun toward her despite her silent approach.

Ziva held a hand up to signal Abby to wait a moment. "Because, if you send anyone here, that will reveal her location," Ziva said into the phone. She let out a frustrated breath. "Because I meticulously searched my car before coming here." She growled with frustration. "Well, I apologize if keeping Abby alive…" Ziva cringed as she shot a quick glance toward Abby. "…if keeping Abby safe is more important than hurting your feelings."

Abby ran a towel over her damp hair as she listened.

Ziva was not happy. "No one comes here unless I clear their vehicle myself," Ziva said flatly. There was a pause as Ziva listened, rolling her eyes occasionally. "That is not going to happen. Let's move on." She turned toward Abby expectantly.

"Me now?" Abby stepped forward. "Finally, I get to do something." She hurried to Ziva's side. "What can I do?"

Ziva slid the pad and paper toward Abby but spoke into the phone. "Abby is going to make a list of all the places she frequents."

Abby expression showed her lack of enthusiasm for such a mundane task.

Ziva continued into the phone. "And then we are going to check each place to see if they have any new employees matching Mikel Mawher's description." She pulled the phone away from her ear and actually glared at it. "Just pass the information to McGee or DiNozzo!" She hung up the phone.

"Who was that?" Abby asked with a smirk.

"Douglas Edwards, the agent covering this weekend. " Ziva stood and paced.

"Ha!" Abby swatted Ziva on the arm. "I'm not the only one who doesn't trust the weekend crew to do their job." She paced alongside Ziva. "Which is why I should go to the lab and process the evidence!"

"Absolutely not," Ziva said. The last thing she wanted was for Abby to race off to the lab where Mawher was most likely to look for her. "And… as the victim, you cannot handle the evidence without risking the integrity of the prosecution," Ziva pointed out.

Abby laughed. "Do you honestly expect me to believe that you, Ziva-the-over-protective-super-spy-killing-machine, are going to let Mikel live after drugging me?"

Ziva's eyes shot open like an owl just startled by a cougar, an owl plotting no good.

Abby laughed, knowing she had totally busted Ziva. "You're not going to kill him, by the way. Not if you don't have to," Abby said as she went to the sofa and flopped into the cushions. She propped her feet on the low coffee table. "Not that I don't appreciate your mile wide protective streak, which I do." She pulled a cushion onto her lap and squeezed it to her chest. "We'll catch him and lock him up and make sure he stays locked up this time."

"Of course," Ziva agreed unconvincingly. She went to a closet and stepped out of view and reached up to a top shelf. She wasn't exactly thrilled that Abby had read her so well. The fact that Mawher had escaped prison made him too big a risk to be allowed to live. She had every intention of making certain Mawher wasn't taken alive.

"What are you up to?" Abby spun and looked over the back of the sofa at the closet.

"Finding something to keep you occupied," Ziva said as she emerged from the closet carrying a laptop, still in the box.

"New equipment?" Abby was on her feet and hopping up and down next to Ziva in a spilt second. "Macbook pro?" She hugged Ziva around the white Apple carton. "You've been holding out on me!" She backed up and held out her hands expectantly. "Gimmee!"

Ziva chuckled as she handed the computer to Abby. "Enjoy." She turned around and retrieved a bag and then followed Abby to the sofa and sat next to her. She smiled at the joy on her friend's face.

"Sweet!" Abby said as she petted the box. She turned to Ziva. "We should document this moment," she said. "I always take a picture of new equipment," she said solemnly. She focused on the bag at Ziva's feet and her eyes widened with curiosity.

Ziva chuckled good-naturedly and slid the bag in front of Abby. "I have been meaning to set up my new system and have not had time yet." Her smile widened as she enjoyed witnessing Abby's happiness. "Maybe you could do it for me?"

"Yes!" Abby exclaimed. She dug through the bag, noting the high-end router and security devices, some of which were government issue, but not the US government. They had obviously not come from the Apple store. She drew in an excited breath and then looked at Ziva in shock. "Is this what I think it is?"

"I obviously do not want anyone hacking into my system." Ziva sat back and watched Abby attack the equipment like a kid on Christmas with a stack of new toys.

"Israeli encryption? Cool!" Abby wiggled from side to side. "I'm guessing we shouldn't mention this?" She paused for a brief second to meet Ziva's eyes. "Gotcha. This doesn't exist because that would probably be illegal in several countries." She went back to the bag of electronics. "Sweet!"

Ziva leaned back and watched with an unfamiliar sensation filling her. It was contentment, she realized. Being here with Abby, here together in Ziva's home, doing something so domestic felt… right. She smiled at the gleeful expressions that skittered across Abby's face as she removed the laptop, and then Ziva realized there was something she needed to share with her friend.

"Abby?" Ziva asked nervously. She reached up and absentmindedly rubbed her Star of David necklace.

"Uh huh?" Abby leaned over the side of the sofa and squeaked as she lunged for an extension cord running along the wall.

"I was not completely honest with you about the computer," Ziva admitted.

"What do you mean?" Abby said and then grunted as she bent completely over the side of the sofa, leaving her lower body on the arm of the sofa and her upper body flailing as she angled awkwardly to plug in the laptop charger.

Ziva waited until Abby reappeared. "It was no accident that I had not set up the computer yet." She looked down at her lap nervously and her fingers returned to the golden star hanging from her neck. Her mother had called it her Magen David, which was Hebrew for 'Shield of David.'

"What do you mean?" Abby studied her friend curiously.

"I waited because I had meant to ask you to assist me." Ziva lifted her gaze until she met Abby's intense green eyes. "I wanted to spend time with you away from work."

The smile that spread across Abby's face was radiant. "All you had to do was ask." She thought about the implications of the normally stoic Mossad officer reaching out to her. "Many have succumbed to the Sciuto charm." She sighed and pretended to polish her nails against her shirt. "I'm growing on you, huh?"

"Definitely," Ziva said, changing her expression to one of mock seriousness.

"Well, thanks to my psycho ex, we'll get to spend tons of time together." The sparkle in Abby's eyes dimmed. "Which is really not a happy thought," she mumbled.

A pained expression covered Ziva's features.

"Not the spending time with you," Abby said quickly. "Because that rocks. I am like totally thrilled to be hanging out with you." Abby's brows crinkled together. "It's the crazy, homicidal stalker that worries me."

"Let me worry about that." Ziva moved closer and put her hand on Abby's back. "You play with the new computer equipment and I will do my ninja spy thing."

Abby rolled her eyes, but her smile was genuine. She turned and her eyes met Ziva's. "Thank you," Abby said. For a moment, neither spoke as their eyes remained locked. Abby felt a magnetic pull toward her friend. She noticed the sable brown color of Ziva's eyes, and then she shifted her focus down to Ziva's full lips. She wondered if the former spy had any idea how often Abby had wondered how those lips would feel pressed to her own.

Ziva was feeling the electricity between them as well. She was distracted by Abby's green eyes, the color reminding her of the amazing shades the Mediterranean ocean would take on during a summer morning. She saw Abby's gaze drop slightly and knew her friend was looking at her lips. She unconsciously licked her lips as if she could feel the scrutiny against her skin like a kiss.

Abby almost groaned when she saw Ziva's tongue dart out and wet the lips she was staring at. She started to lean forward and then it suddenly occurred to her that she was about to kiss her friend. She abruptly sat up straight.

"Okay. So, new computer," Abby said in a rush. She cleared her throat because her voice had sounded husky. "Don't forget we need a camera to document this."

Ziva didn't move. She paused, still leaning toward Abby's former position. She knew Abby had been moving toward her for a kiss, and was a bit shocked, pleased, but shocked. She cleared her throat and sat up. "As you wish," she said with a smile. She stood and took a deep breath and slowly let it out as she tried to rein in her raging hormones. Ziva was a trained spy. Spies were patient and they waited until the moment was perfect before acting, carefully gathering information until they had all the facts before making their move. A big piece of the puzzle had just fallen into place. 'She wanted to kiss me,' Ziva thought as she went to get her digital camera. There was an extra spring in her step as she hurried to her office.

Ever observant, Abby noticed. 'She wanted to kiss me,' the scientist deduced. She smiled and then focused on the computer in her lap. 'And just what the heck do I do with that information?' she wondered. Her thoughts drifted to images of kissing Ziva, then to where those kisses might lead and she shivered. "Yum," she whispered.

 

CHAPTER FOUR

The black of the night sky was surrendering to the morning hues of blue as the sun broke over the horizon. Abby yawned and leaned against the window of the car. She watched the city coming to life as Ziva drove through the mostly empty streets. Abby had noticed that they were heading away from NCIS headquarters, but Ziva had explained that they were 'taking the long way' to avoid detection. So far, 'the long way' had taken them over an hour in the completely wrong direction. She sighed, trusting Ziva to know what she was doing. After all, Ziva was the queen of spies.

Abby had spent the previous evening with Ziva and found their time together relaxed and comfortable. Ziva spent much of the afternoon calling businesses from a list of places Abby frequented, while Abby put the new computer through its paces. She had been shocked to find that the laptop had additional memory, a huge hard drive, and a lightning fast processor, none of which were available to the general public. Though, on reflection, she realized that it shouldn't have surprised her. Apparently Ziva had access to the super spy model. Every moment with the beautiful Israeli brought some new revelation, and every new revelation left Abby hungry for more.

Dinner had merely confirmed what Abby already knew from a few parties Ziva had thrown. Ziva was an incredible cook. The revelation from the meal had been that Ziva had prepared several of Abby's favorite dishes. Ziva acted as if she had just happened to have the ingredients on hand. After dinner came another surprise when Ziva suggested a movie. Ziva had recently acquired a plasma television and DVD player, and she had several of Abby's favorites, the Princess Bride, Dawn of the Dead, John Carpenter's The Thing, Dances with Wolves, and all three Austin Powers movies.

Abby was building a very important case and the evidence was stacking up nicely. She had mentioned each movie to Ziva in the past, which meant one of two things. One, Ziva had heard her mention the movies and decided to watch them because she valued Abby's opinion, which was a good thing. Or two, Ziva had heard her mention the movies and decided to make her movie collection Abby-friendly, which was a very good thing. Other surprises included finding Thelma and Louise in the movie collection, which was the film they had ended up watching first. Ziva, of course, had several critical comments on the gun handling techniques as well as a string of biting commentaries on the US legal system. They watched the Princess Bride next, which explained Ziva's new favorite catch phrase, 'as you wish.'

Abby took a moment away from her quiet reflection and glanced at Ziva. 'God, that woman is stunning,' she thought as their car raced through the city.

"You okay?" Ziva glanced toward her, as if feeling Abby's scrutiny.

"Um hmm," Abby mumbled and then nodded, resting her face against the window again and closing her eyes. She heard the muffled sounds of fabric moving and then felt Ziva's hand on her shoulder. She opened her eyes to see Ziva's leather jacket balled up to resemble a pillow.

"Here," Ziva said. "I do not want you getting a kick in your neck."

"Kink," Abby said with a smirk. She took the jacket and used it as a pillow and settled in again. The jacket was warm, having just been taken from Ziva's body. It held the woman's intriguing scent.

"Excuse me?" Ziva asked.

"A kink in my neck," Abby said as she opened her eyes and turned toward Ziva.

"Ah, thank you for clarifying." Ziva blushed.

"Did you think it was an offer?" Abby asked, obviously bemused. She closed her eyes and stifled a yawn.

"Is kink something you generally offer while carpooling?" Ziva asked innocently.

"That depends on who I'm carpooling with," Abby said without opening her eyes.

"I will make a note of that for future reference," Ziva said, her voice a bit strained.

"Make a note of it," Abby said as she opened her eyes, "put it on a post-it, and keep it handy." She smiled as she watched Ziva's blush deepen.

Ziva stopped at a red light and she stared at Abby. She knew Abby was enjoying the banter as much as she was. She bent slightly toward Abby and lowered her voice to a husky, sensual whisper. "I do not need a post-it; I remember everything you tell me." She pinned Abby in her gaze. "Especially the important things."

Abby had to fight down the urge to lean toward Ziva, grab her, and kiss her senseless. She needed to change the subject fast or she'd have to explain to Gibbs why Ziva was reporting to the office hours late and covered with fresh hickeys. "Speaking of important…" She cleared her throat. "You are not sleeping in the chair another night."

"And just where should I sleep?" Ziva asked, her voice still husky. The light changed and Ziva gunned the car into motion. "The best place for me to guard you is in the same room, and I only have one bed."

"Um…"Abby's jaw dropped. 'Out of the frying pan and into the fire,' she thought.

Ziva turned and gave Abby a questioning glance. One eyebrow was high on her elegant forehead and her full lips were pursed in a very sexy crooked smile.

Abby's mind raced with predatory glee. If Ziva wanted to take the gloves off, fine. "It's a big bed, Ziva." She smiled and licked her lips. "Plenty of room for both of us." She shrugged and sighed. "Although I do tend to cuddle up during the night," she rubbed her chin as if thinking. "I'm used to sleeping in a coffin, so all that room in a bed feels kinda' hinky… I tend to find the closest body and just… well…"

"Any body?" Ziva asked. She saw the building she was looking for and changed lanes.

"I'm pretty selective about who I let into bed with me," Abby said. "Call it prescreening."

Ziva nodded, but remained silent for a moment. She glanced at Abby, her tone suddenly more serious. "I am glad that I pass your prescreening."

"You absolutely do," Abby said honestly. "You're a good friend, Ziva." She yawned again and smiled, embarrassed. "Sorry. I'm usually seeing this view at the end of my day, not the start." She pointed to the sunrise in the distance.

"I am the one who is sorry," Ziva said sincerely. "This is earlier than even I am usually up, but we need to take precautions if you insist on going to the office."

"I insist." Abby crossed her arms over her chest. "And the reason for no Caf-Pow?"

"Mikel Mawher knows you." Ziva glanced over at Abby and then back to the road. "Therefore, you are not going to do anything you usually do. You ordering a Caf-Pow is like a fish breathing water. Predictable."

"A fish breathing water isn't so much predictable as it is necessary for life," Abby pointed out. "Like me and Caf-Pow." She crossed her arms over her chest and pouted silently for a moment. Even her best puppy dog eyes failed to affect her friend. "Ziva!"

"You will have to live without Caf-Pow," Ziva said reasonably. She smiled when she heard Abby's grouchy exhale. "Be a good girl and I will bring home some new software for you to play with tonight," Ziva promised.

Abby's eyebrows rose in unison, high onto her forehead. "You want me to play with your software?" Abby asked with a seductive leer.

Ziva turned toward the tone more than the words. She smiled and let her eyes drift slightly closed. She knew from experience that trained spies buckled under her sexy gaze. "Does that interest you?" she asked in a seductive whisper, and then slowly licked her bottom lip.

"Uh huh…" Abby's voice was strangled squeak. She felt like she was going to melt into a puddle in the seat of the car.

One corner of Ziva's lips lifted into sexy half smirk. "Then it is a date."

"Yeah." Abby nodded, completely thrown for a very big loop. She noticed that Ziva's grin didn't fade as she focused on the road ahead. "No fair," she whined. "You cannot use your evil-sexy- spy-ninja-Jedi-mind-trick on me. I haven't even had any caffeine!"

"You find me sexy?" Ziva asked innocently. She stopped at a red light and turned toward Abby and batted her eyelashes.

"I do have eyes, Ziva." Abby's tone made it clear that she found Ziva's question ridiculous. "I can't imagine anyone not finding you sexy."

"Thank you," Ziva said quietly. She had no smart-mouthed reply for the simple admission. She shifted her focus back to the road and turned right at the red light, and then pulled into a parking structure. She stopped at a booth in front of a lowered gate.

An armed Marine came to her window. "Ma'am?" He had one hand on his weapon as he looked into the car.

"Officer David," Ziva said as she handed him her ID. "You are expecting us, Lt. Carson?" She noticed his nametag and committed his name and face to memory.

"Yes, ma'am," Carson said. He leaned down, comparing Ziva to her picture.

A second Marine in the booth used a computer to check her license plate. After a moment he stepped forward and held out a device.

Carson turned and took the device and began scanning the car.

Abby's confusion was written on her face. "I know this isn't NCIS. As a matter of fact, we're like miles in the wrong freakin' direction," she said, pointing out the obvious. "Why are we here?"

"Yes, we are not at NCIS," Ziva confirmed. She nodded toward Carson, who was moving around the car and holding the device to every part of the vehicle. "He is checking for tracking devices."

"You did that last night," Abby said as she turned in her seat to watch the Marine's progress around the car.

"We must check for bugs frequently to avoid detection." Ziva rested a hand on Abby's leg. "Which is why we are miles from NCIS."

Carson tapped the roof of Ziva's car. "Ma'am?" he asked.

Ziva hit a button and the hatch popped open. She turned and watched as Carson examined the back area of the vehicle, moving a neatly folded wool blanket next to her emergency kit. Once satisfied, he closed the hatch and came back to Ziva's side of the car.

"All clear, ma'am," Carson said as he leaned down at Ziva's window. "Second floor, B17."

"Thank you," Ziva said. The gate lifted and she moved the car into the structure and went up to the second floor.

"I'm waiting for an explanation," Abby said. "You drag me out of bed, all sleepy and without Caf-Pow, and take me on a road trip to top-secretville and I wanna know what's going on…" She had started strong, but by the time the sentence finished, it was a pitiful whine.

Ziva pulled into a parking spot labeled B17 and turned off the car. "Abby, do you trust me?"

"Of course," Abby whined.

"Then trust that I am doing my best to keep you safe." Ziva took Abby's hand and squeezed it. "That means keeping Mikel Mawher from ever seeing you. We cannot let him know when or how you get to the office, or when you leave, or who you leave with, or who you arrive with."

"And this marine parking lot helps how?" Abby asked with a pout.

Ziva got out and came around the car and opened the door for Abby. "Come on." She pulled Abby to her feet.

Abby smiled, noticing that Ziva had come around the car and held the door open like a perfect gentlewoman on a date. Abby held Ziva's jacket in her arms and wasn't about to give it up. The two walked over to a small door next to a huge set of double doors designed for a vehicle. Ziva knocked and the door buzzed as an electronic lock deactivated.

Abby followed Ziva inside and her eyes widened when she saw Ducky standing in front of the NCIS crime scene van. "Ducky!" She ran and threw herself into his arms. "Tell me you brought a Caf-Pow!" she begged as she pulled out of the hug.

Ducky sighed and shook his head. "Alas, dear Abigail, Ziva has rightly decided that Caf-Pow is off limits until further notice."

Abby shot Ziva a playful glare, and then turned to Ducky. "Is this a crime scene?"

Ducky shook his head. "Your chariot awaits, my lady." He bowed elegantly. He straightened back up and turned to Ziva. "I resisted the urge to wear a trench coat. With all this cloak and dagger espionage going on, it seemed rather fitting. Reminds me of a brilliant novel I read…"

Ziva's eyes widened in warning.

"Yes, I know. Do nothing out of the ordinary," he said before she could reprimand him. "Mister Palmer and I are wearing typical crime scene overalls." He pointed to the back of the van. "And I brought your supplies," he promised Ziva.

"What supplies?" Abby asked even as Ziva took her arm and guided her to the back of the van.

Ducky watched quietly, but he had a knowing smile that didn't escape Ziva's eagle eyes.

"Did you have a question?" Ziva asked pointedly.

"Not a one." He slapped her on the back and laughed. He was a keen observer and he had already noted dozens of shared glances between Ziva and Abby. He also noticed the way Ziva seemed unable to avoid touching Abby. It was out of character for the former Mossad officer who tended to avoid physical contact. That, combined with the list of supplies Ziva had requested, added up to a very obvious answer. Ziva was courting Abigail.

Ziva checked the van, greeted Palmer, and then helped Abby climb into the back of the vehicle. Ziva sat next to the coroner's assistant on a bench along one wall.

"Where do I sit?" Abby asked with a pitiful pout.

"You almost fell asleep on the way over." Ziva pointed at the gurney. "It is almost like a coffin," she said with a smile.

"My coffin has never actually contained a corpse," Abby said as she put both hands on her hips.

"Neither has this," Palmer volunteered. "Ziva called last night and had Ducky pull a new one out of storage." He completely missed the fact that Ziva was now blushing deep red. "As long as you're in protective custody, we're supposed to keep this one in Ducky's office and use it only when transporting you," Palmer explained.

Ziva suddenly found the floor extremely interesting. "Yes, well, we needed a vehicle to get you into and out of the building that comes and goes at all hours," Ziva said. She picked up a duffle bag.

Abby sat on the gurney and bounced to test the comfort. "This'll do," she said. She stretched out and wiggled. "It's a little lacking in the amenities department," she said with a frown. She tucked Ziva's jacket under her head and decided she could live with the gurney.

Ziva cleared her throat and held out a blanket and small pillow from the duffle.

"I love you!" Abby grabbed the items and settled in as the van started to move.

Ziva dug in the duffle bag and pulled out an iPod and a black sleeping mask and extended them to her friend.

Abby's jaw dropped.

"You keep this at the lab," Ziva said as she handled Abby the iPod. "I thought the music would help you relax." She held out the mask shyly. "I had Ducky pick this up. I know you like your coffin because it keeps out all light."

Abby hugged Ziva. "Thank you," she whispered. She smiled when she felt Ziva shiver at the contact.

"You are welcome." Ziva looked toward the front of the van and then at Palmer. "I believe you usually ride in front. Yes?"

"Ah, yeah," he said as he looked back and forth between the two women. He sighed and stood, then moved toward the front of the van.

"Do not forget the lights," Ziva said as he moved to the passenger area. She settled against the side of the van as the lights in the back compartment went dark. She found Abby's eyes on her in the near darkness. "Try to rest." She shifted trying to get comfortable. "It will take at least an hour to get back to NCIS."

"Feet," Abby said, patting the gurney. The gurney was strapped in place, so it was completely stable as the van moved out of the parking structure onto the street.

Ziva gave Abby a confused look.

"Your feet," Abby said with a laugh. "Put them up here." She patted the gurney again. When Ziva's feet were on the gurney, Abby lifted them onto her belly and snuggled her arms around them. "Better?" she asked as she pulled the sleeping mask into place.

"Much," Ziva said huskily.

Abby nodded and tucked one hand under the cuff of Ziva's pant leg and began absentmindedly rubbing her fingers over the soft skin. 'I'm being courted by a super spy,' she thought with a happy grin. She sighed and relaxed. She felt completely safe.

Ziva didn't feel safe. She was falling, and falling hard. She needed to talk to someone about her growing feelings. That thought made her chest ache. 'I miss you, Jenny,' she thought sadly. Her hand found its way to the gold at her neck. She traced the shape between her thumb and index finger as she became lost in her thoughts.

Before Jenny became the NCIS director, she was an excellent field agent. She had worked with Ziva throughout Eastern Europe and in Cairo, Egypt. The two had shared the bonds of friendship and of two comrades-in-arms. Jenny had known the dangers of the job. She had also been the first to notice the way Ziva looked at Abby. Ziva smiled in the near darkness of the van as it moved through the city streets. She remembered Jenny's blunt advice the day Abby had been trying to find an outfit for court. It was actually during the time Mawher had first stalked Abby. The memory was bittersweet for Ziva, bringing both a happy smile and a deep stab of pain that always came when she was thinking of her dear friend. She sighed and remembered Jenny and happier times.

Abby had been trying to find the perfect outfit for court. As soon as Abby had left the room, Jenny had moved to Ziva's side and draped an arm around her friend. "Life's too short to ignore feelings like those," Jenny had told Ziva.

"What feelings?" Ziva had said defensively.

"Please." Jenny hadn't been fooled. "If you keep giving her those love-struck bedroom-eyes, everyone in the building is going to talk."

Ziva's first instinct had been to deny, then she had sighed and looked into her best friend's eyes. "Am I that obvious, mon cher?" She had asked, using a French term of affection.

"Only to me," Jenny had said, and then she had kissed Ziva's cheek, which was a rare occurrence between them. She had wiped her lipstick away and held Ziva's face as she met her gaze. "Abby's a great woman. She likes you, too. She just doesn't know it yet." Jenny had pulled away and went behind the desk. "Strictly speaking, it's against policy." Then Jenny had gotten one of her most devilish smiles, the ones that had led to many a wild adventure when the two women were in Europe years before. "Strictly speaking, you've never been one to follow rules. Don't start now. You two can be good together."

Ziva lifted her Magen David and sighed, missing Jenny more than she had in some time, which was saying a lot.

"You okay?" Abby asked from the gurney.

"Yes," Ziva said, her voice thick with emotion. She tucked the necklace beneath her blouse. "Go to sleep."

Abby wasn't convinced. She noticed Ziva rubbing her Jewish star. It was one of the few actions that revealed when Ziva was bothered by something. Abby wanted to dig deeper, but instead, she allowed Ziva her privacy. She did however move her fingers further up Ziva's leg and offered her support with gentle caresses.


"Shouldn't they be here?" DiNozzo paced nervously into front of his desk. "Ziva is always here by now." He checked his watch and scowled. It was almost 8:00 a.m. and, with a stalker after Abby, everyone was already busy chasing leads.

Gibbs walked up behind DiNozzo and slapped him on the back of the head. "Abby has a stalker, DiNozzo." He took a sip from his coffee cup. "Changing all routines would be Ziva's first move."

The elevator opened and Ziva came out with Abby at her side. Abby had her hand tucked through Ziva's arm and she looked reluctant to get more than a few centimeters from the younger agent.

"You okay, Abbs?" Gibbs asked.

"Gibbs!" Abby finally released Ziva's arm and sprinted to him. "I thought you were gone for two more days!" She threw her arms around him and held him in a death grip of a hug.

DiNozzo walked up to Ziva. "Were you followed?"

The glare Ziva gave DiNozzo made him take a step back.

"Not likely." Abby eased out of Gibbs' arms. "We took the scenic route." She smiled at Ziva with obviously affection. "And changed cars. I got to ride in back of Ducky's morgue van. On the gurney!"

"You made Abby ride in the van on a morgue gurney?" DiNozzo asked. "Ew!"

"She sleeps in a coffin," Ziva pointed out with a smirk. "Why would a morgue van bother her?"

Gibbs went to his desk and sat. "And it's a vehicle that can come and go at any hour without notice." He lifted his cup to Ziva. "Good thinking."

Abby went to Gibbs' desk and leaned against it. "I got to nap on the gurney on the way in, too," she said. With Gibbs and Ziva both on the case she felt safer already.

McGee came around the partition at the far end of the room carrying two cups of coffee. He handed one to DiNozzo. "It's eight in the morning, why would you need a nap, Abby?"

DiNozzo looked from Ziva to Abby. "Did you girls stay up all night? Was there pillow fighting that went just a bit too far?" He sighed. "One thing leads to another. Two hot chicks breathing heavy, wrestling on the bed…"

"Hello? I was recovering from being drugged!" Abby yelled. She didn't volunteer that she and Ziva had stayed up most of the night watching movies. If Tony found out that Ziva had a plasma TV and a DVD player, he'd want to come to dinner every night. She really didn't like that idea. Not one bit.

"Don't you people have work to do?" Gibbs asked. "Or was Mikel Mawher captured and no one bothered to tell me?"

"I have a list of new employees we should interview," Ziva said as she went to her desk.

"Who are these people? Where do they work?" McGee asked.

"Clubs, markets, anywhere Abby has frequented in the past," Ziva said.

"Get on it," Gibbs said.

"What about me?" Abby asked. She moved over and stood next Ziva, as if she thought Mikel might appear at any moment.

Gibbs sensed her nervousness. "There's no way he's getting onto the grounds," he promised. "But if you want us to move you into the elevator, let me know," he said kindly, referring to Abby's need to set up camp in the elevator the last time Mawher had stalked her.

Abby bit her lip and inched a bit closer to Ziva's desk. "No, I can work in my lab." She glanced at Ziva. "Can I go over the evidence from the club?"

Gibbs let out a slow breath. "I don't want to give his attorney any reason to throw out evidence. We just got some trace from a burglary. Six Marine uniforms were stolen. You can work on that."

"Sounds earth shattering." DiNozzo rolled his eyes. "Who's gonna check our evidence?" he whined.

"The FBI," Gibbs said. "I don't want Mawher having any loopholes in court."

"Gibbs!" Abby was mortified. "You're sending the FBI my evidence? Don't I have any say in this?"

"This is not a democracy, Abbs." Gibbs took a sip of his coffee. He turned and headed toward the elevator.

"Fine." Abby sat on the side of Ziva's desk.

"Get to work," Gibbs said from a few paces away, knowing that no one was moving, despite having his back to them.

DiNozzo and McGee rushed to their desks.

"You heard Gibbs. Get to work." Tony put his feet on his desk. "I'll supervise."

"DiNozzo!" Gibbs yelled as he went into the elevator.

"Right." DiNozzo sat up. "I'll see if I can get a list of companies that sell the Rohypnol Mawher used on Abby."

The elevator closed and Abby looked to Ziva nervously.

Ziva remained complete still. She was analyzing Abby, who seemed reluctant to move. She rested a hand on Abby's shoulder. "Are you okay?"

"Just great." Abby's voice was glum and she stared the floor.

"What can I do to help?" Ziva asked.

"Nothing." Abby sighed pitifully. "I have no Caf-Pow." She brought her gaze up and looked into Ziva's eyes seeking comfort. "I have to go downstairs to my lab where I will be all alone, defenseless, and working on a stupid break-in case while the F-freakin'-B-I is working on my evidence."

"You are nervous about being alone?" Ziva asked.

Abby stared at Ziva. "Well, yeah."

"I have to make several dozen calls," Ziva said quietly. "Perhaps I could make them from the lab?"

Abby let out a relived sigh and rushed toward Ziva. "That would be so great."

"I'll follow up on the info you emailed me," McGee said. "I can have the new employee files faxed over and see if anything looks suspicious."

"Come on." Ziva nodded toward the door to the stairwell.

"Why the stairs?" Abby asked. She knew any action Ziva took had to have a tactical advantage, and Abby was curious.

"I was remiss when we arrived. The elevator can break down," Ziva pointed out. "The elevator has only one entrance, which makes you a perfect target as you exit." She led Abby across the room. "The stairwell offers a reliable way to get to your lab, and in the event of a security breech, you have two ways to escape; up or down."

"Hmm." Abby tucked her hand around Ziva's arm.

"Also, since I am escorting you, it gives me a chance to clear the stairwells, make sure no one is hiding in them." Ziva reached for the door with one hand, using the other to guide Abby to a stop. She looked in the stairwell and only allowed Abby to follow once she was certain it was safe.

The door closed behind them and McGee stared for several moments, silently dissecting the previous few minutes.

DiNozzo was not silent. "They seem pretty chummy."

"It makes sense," McGee said. "Ziva is probably the most effective bodyguard possible." He logged onto his computer.

"Man, I'd love to join their little sleepovers." DiNozzo got a far-away look in his eyes.

McGee glared. "Remember how nervous Abby was last time? Just because she's leaning on Ziva doesn't mean you should make DiNozzo comments."

"I have a reputation to uphold," DiNozzo said primly. "No one else is gonna' keep the testosterone levels up." He winced when he felt a slap at the base of his skull.

"We don't pay you to be a frat boy, DiNozzo." Gibbs went to his desk, sat, and opened a file. "I suggest you start by finding where Mawher got the Rohypnol."

"Sure thing, Boss," DiNozzo said. He rubbed the back of his head. He wondered where Gibbs had disappeared to and how he had gotten back so quickly.


Half the day was gone and there were no leads on Mikel Mawher. Ziva was frustrated, but she was committed to finding Abby's stalker. McGee and DiNozzo had already been to six locations and found nothing more than dead ends.

Abby was thoroughly bored. She spent half her time putting samples of trace evidence into the mass spectrometer, and the other half stealing glances at Ziva as the beautiful Israeli made calls from the phone across the room. Abby had been momentarily amused by the fact that the Marines had taken their uniforms to a dry cleaner called Swabby's, but its entertainment value faded as the day slowly passed and her boredom increased.

Ziva was frustrated by the lack of leads, but continued undaunted. "And when did Mr. Evers start working for your company?" Ziva asked into the phone. "Two weeks?" She took notes as she spoke. "Could you describe him?"

Abby leaned to one side so she could see Ziva around the computer monitor she was using. She smiled, and took the opportunity to openly stare. Ziva was wearing jeans, and the slightly loose fit was more alluring than any skintight dress. She sighed.

Ziva turned to check on Abby, then focused on her phone call. "Is he working today?" Ziva seemed pleased. "We will be coming by. Do not mention this to him. I would be… displeased." She underlined a few works in her notes. "Thank you, for your time." She hung up and stood.

"Did you find him?" Abby asked hopefully.

"It is only a lead," Ziva pointed out. "But I will check it."

"You're leaving?" Abby rushed to Ziva's side. "Who's gonna' guard me and keep me all safe?"

"Would you like me to have a Marine guard sent down?" Ziva asked.

"No," Abby said with a pathetic sigh.

"Which in Abby-speak means… yes?" Ziva translated.

Abby nodded.

"As you wish," Ziva whispered huskily and winked at Abby, thinking of the movie from the previous night. Ziva picked up the phone and dialed. "And I will not leave until the guard is here. Is that acceptable?"

Abby smiled and actually skipped back to her computer. She listened as Ziva made the arrangements, but then she heard the beep of her mass spectrometer and went to see what the findings were. Her test results made her forget Mikel Mawher. "That is not good," she whispered. She paused and then petted the mass spectrometer. "Not you, baby. You were very good. I meant, what we, meaning you, found is not good."

Ziva hung up the phone and came closer. "What did you find?" Ziva asked curiously.

"Well, the boring theft of Marine uniforms just took a sinister detour into Ziva-the-Spy-Queen-land." Abby motioned for Ziva to come closer.

Ziva moved next to Abby, so close she could feel the heat coming off of Abby's hip. "That is not good," she said when she read the results of the trace evidence scan.

"What's not good?" Gibbs came through the doors. He was carrying a can of Mountain Dew, which he held up.

Abby's hand shot out and snagged the beverage in a split second. "This is so not Caf-Pow," she said as she opened the can and took a huge gulp. "Ahh!" she said after another gulp. "But it will do in a pinch. At least until I can convince Ziva the Spy Queen to let me have Caf-Pow."

Gibbs smirked. He agreed with Ziva's rules, but he'd let her be the heavy. "It's as close to Caf-Pow as the Spy Queen will allow." He cleared his throat. "What did you find?"

Abby took another long drink, holding up her other hand to silence Gibbs while she took in satisfying gulps of the life giving caffeine. "Well, Master Mass Spectrometer found Cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine. Not good," she finally said.

"Also known as RDX," Ziva volunteered.

"Yeah," Gibbs said. "I know. It's used as a component in a dozen different military explosives."

"That's not all," Abby said. "I also found traces of Pentaerythritol tetranitrate."

"PETN, or pentrite," Ziva said grimly. "Combine those two and you get…"

"Semtex," Gibbs said.

"Semtex," Ziva agreed, nodding her head.

"Definitely not good," Abby said. "Whoever stole those Marine uniforms has demolition quality explosives similar to C-4, and, as we all know, Semtex is more stabile and tolerant of a broader temperature range than C-4 which means it's much more versatile."

"And difficult to detect," Ziva added.

"Good work, Abby." Gibbs kissed her cheek. "We have a BOLO on Mawher and half a dozen agencies are running background checks looking for him. Everyone here has been on this since Saturday night, but now we've got a possible terrorist op going on here."

Ziva nodded in agreement, her mind already making lists of possible targets.

"I know," Abby said sincerely. "You guys have other cases."

Gibbs nodded to Abby and then turned to Ziva. "You've got a lot more experience tracking terrorist, so I want you to take point on this investigation. That is, if the Spy Queen is taking cases?" Gibbs asked her.

"Of course," Ziva agreed. "But I also have to interview a new hire at a local company. He fits Mawher's description. Should I hand it off to McGee?"

"Where?" Gibbs asked.

"Harbor Street," Ziva answered.

Abby was listening with interest.

"Go there first," Gibbs said. "Then meet McGee and DiNozzo at the dry cleaners. They can work the scene before you get there."

Ziva looked at Abby, then back to Gibbs. She raised her eyebrows in silent question.

Gibbs read the exchange and sighed. "I'll guard Abby until the Marine you requested arrives." He leaned against Abby's desk. "Go," he told Ziva.

Ziva nodded and turned to Abby. "I will be here to take you home tonight. Do not leave with anyone else." She didn't bother to ask how Gibbs knew about the Marine guard. The man truly seemed to have psychic abilities.

Abby nodded. She watched Ziva hurry toward the door. "Be careful!"

Ziva turned and smiled shyly. "Always," she whispered, and then she spun and was out of view in a few brief seconds.

Gibbs watched the exchange, but said nothing. It concerned him. He could see more sparks than usual between the two women and was worried that Abby might be falling for the Mossad officer. He liked Ziva, but as Abby's surrogate father figure, he didn't want a trained assassin chasing after his little Abby.

"What?" Abby demanded.

"Nothing," Gibbs said quietly. He sipped his coffee. "Nothing at all."

Part 5

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