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 THIRTEEN

Ziva shifted her weight and let out a lazy sigh. She was resting on top of Abby, waiting for the alarm to go off. She thought spending three days away from work would be difficult, that the time would drag and the lack of cases would make her go stir crazy. She was wrong. The days spent getting to know Abby better passed far too quickly. She loved sitting on the couch while they each read their own materials, sometimes reading an interesting bit to the other.

Abby had even insisted that Ziva read from her French magazine, an article about relations between the French government and the people from the Bast region. Abby hadn't understood a word, but the lyrical language had inflamed Abby's passions, convincing Ziva to make a point of speaking French more often.

Now, they had to return to work. Ziva glanced at the alarm clock, willing the time to move more slowly. She rested her hand on Abby's cheek and gave her a tender kiss. Even asleep, Abby smiled into the contact. She parted her lips to give Ziva's tongue access and moved her hands across Ziva's body.

"Umm." Abby sighed as the kiss broke. She hadn't opened her eyes yet. "Tell me we don't have to go to work today," she said.

"I'm sorry, kitten. I cannot," Ziva replied. "I will not lie to you."

"How soon do we have to get up?" Abby rolled to one side, easing Ziva to the mattress beside her.

"One hour." Ziva kissed Abby again, this time more intensely.

"Not a lot of time," Abby said as she opened her eyes. "But it'll have to do." She carefully shifted Ziva onto her back. She knew her lover's skin was still tender, but she also knew that after three days of rest, Ziva was able to find a comfortable position on her back. Abby liked Ziva on her back. It gave Abby access that pleased them both very much.

"You are spoiling me." Ziva found a position that was comfortable and guided Abby onto her chest. "You make love to me day and night, feed me Cajun meals too rich for a Frenchman, and keep me in bed instead of sending me on my morning runs. Soon I will be as big as horse."

"House," Abby corrected. "There is no way that's gonna happen." She rolled her eyes and pressed her hand to Ziva's flat stomach. She moved her fingers, tracing the six-pack abs. "You gonna waste our time complaining or are you gonna kiss me?"

Ziva studied Abby. She traced Abby's lip with one thumb and her eyes filled with warmth and affection. "I am going to kiss you. Did you have any doubts?"

"Not one," Abby swore. She leaned down and let her emotion come through her loving kisses. It was true. She had no doubts. She was falling deeply in love with Ziva and had no worries. Every time Ziva looked at her, it was clear the feelings were mutual.


"Are they here yet?" DiNozzo peeked over the top of the divider that separated the desks from the rest of the large office.

"Do you see Ziva sitting at her desk?" McGee asked.

"No," DiNozzo said as his eyes lingered on the desk in question. "But I do see flowers." He moved around the divider, suddenly on a mission.

"Leave 'em alone, Tony," McGee warned.

"Pfft!" DiNozzo waved a hand, dismissing McGee. He leaned over and examined the huge, and obviously expensive arrangement. The flowers were perfect red roses mixed with white lilies. The vase was crystal. "Dude, this is Waterford," Tony exclaimed.

"And its Ziva's," McGee added.

"A card…" DiNozzo noticed. He picked it up and felt the paper. "Heavy paper, handmade, very posh." He smelled the card. "Perfume." He inhaled deeply and his eyes widened. "No.1," he said in a shocked tone.

"Huh?" McGee asked.

"No.1," DiNozzo said excitedly. "As in Clive Christian's signature scent that is so incredible they just call it Number one. It costs about twenty-one hundred bucks an ounce."

"And that means?" McGee drew the question out.

"That means Ziva has an admirer. A female admirer, unless Ziva's seeing a cross-dresser with exceptional taste," DiNozzo said. He raised his eyebrows and scratched his cheek with the card. "Hmm," Tony said as he lifted the envelope seal and peeked inside.

"Don't do it, Tony," McGee warned.

"Shut up, Probie. I still haven't forgiven you for eating every last Ho-Ho in the vending machine," DiNozzo said and then opened the card. "The plot thickens!" He cleared his throat and read from the card. "Thank you, for your diligence." He opened his mouth in shock. "Sounds kinky." He smiled before reading another line. "I enjoyed hearing the beautiful accent of our homeland." He gasped in mock surprise. "Our little spy is seeing someone from back home."

"Tony, you really shouldn't be doing this." McGee didn't think Ziva would approve of DiNozzo's snooping. "And I didn't eat the damn Ho-Hos."

"Oh, this is too good," DiNozzo said. "Please call me if there is anything I can do for you, or if you would like to share dinner and discuss home. Anna." He tapped the card. "That's the way sexy Israelis make a booty call," he told McGee.

"Who is calling boots?" Ziva asked as she came around the corner and stared at the flowers on her desk and then the card in Tony's hand.

DiNozzo jumped as if scalded and tossed the card onto Ziva's desk.

"Tony," Abby said in a chastising tone coming alongside Ziva. "You can't just go through someone's stuff because they've been on sick leave." Her eyes stopped on the flowers and then she turned to Ziva and smiled. "Ambassador Grabbyhands?"

Ziva grinned and reached for the note, carefully as if it needed to be disinfected.

"Ooh," Tony said gleefully. "And just who is this Ambassador Anna Grabbyhands?"

"Anna?" Abby spun toward DiNozzo, then back to Ziva.

Ziva read the card. "A thank you," she said quietly. "For interrupting the bombing plot."

DiNozzo pouted. "I didn't get flowers from Ambassador Anna Grabbyhands."

"She is not the Ambassador," Ziva said. "And just why were you reading my card?" She waved the card in front of him.

Abby's eyes followed every move the card made as Ziva continued waving it.

Ziva caught her lover's gaze and cleared her throat. She handed the card to Abby. "I am certain it is only a courtesy."

"Hmpt." Abby's eyes scanned the card.

"Smell it," DiNozzo suggested. "Go ahead. Give it a sniff."

Abby inhaled, recognizing it as an expensive fragrance. "This is a high classed booty call."

"What do my boots have to do with any of this?" Ziva asked.

"Booty call, Ziva," DiNozzo said with a leer. "Usually a late night, drunken call from an ex interested in coming over for a night of wild sex."

Abby took a step closer to her lover. "Or from a person you just met… looking for a night of wild sex," she added. Her eyes narrowed and she glared at the flowers.

"I assure you, there is not, nor will there be, any wild sex," Ziva said, suddenly feeling like she'd better send Abby flowers fast.

"Poor Ziva," DiNozzo said. "No wild sex for you." He shook his head. "Abbs, maybe after this is all over, you can take Ziva out for a night on the town. She needs a boost for her love life."

"You need to stay out of my personal business," Ziva said dangerously. She was about to say that her love life was going quite well, but then she saw Abby glaring at the flowers with murderous intent. "These are simply flowers from a thankful person. She is glad we stopped the bomber and that none of the families were hurt." Ziva caught Abby's eyes. "I am sure she is merely relieved we stopped an international incident."

"Red roses mean romantic love." DiNozzo sat on Ziva's desk next to the vase. "White lilies mean purity, or they can mean, and I quote, 'It's heavenly to be with you.' I've given enough of them to know," he added. "Did I mention the vase is Waterford crystal?"

"Booty call," Abby said.

Ziva sighed, wondering how she had gotten into so much trouble so early in the morning.

McGee suddenly found his desk extremely interesting. DiNozzo might be clueless, but McGee could see that Abby was marking her territory. That territory was Officer Ziva David. 'Man, Dr. Allison is one hell of a profiler,' he thought.

Finally Ziva went into damage control, which irked her because she hadn't actually done the damage. Ziva cleared her throat and said, "I am confident she did not mean the flowers to be romantic. More likely, she picked these flowers because she works at the Israeli embassy."

Abby gave her a skeptical look.

Ziva let out a grouchy sigh. "Roses and lilies are major exports from Israel," she said pointedly.

"Did Anna Grabbyhands tell you that?" Abby asked.

"No, " Ziva said defensively. She realized she wasn't making much progress. She grabbed Abby's hand and pulled her toward the stairwell. "Should you not get back to your lab?"

"Sure." Abby followed along behind her lover. She knew she was being overly sensitive and that Ziva couldn't control some woman she'd only spoken to on the phone once. Still, this was her Ziva and she wanted to know why was some stupid embassy woman was hitting on her.

Ziva closed the door to the stairwell and pressed Abby against the wall. She kissed her, hard. Her hands moved up Abby's body, coming to rest on Abby's breasts and her thumbs tease the pebbled skin that met her touch. When she pulled out of the kiss, both were breathing heavily.

Abby wrapped her hands around Ziva's waist.

"Yours are the only boots I will ever call," Ziva stated.

Abby nodded, still a bit dazed.

"Abby," Ziva said firmly. "You have my heart." She took Abby's hand and pulled it to her chest and leaned forward so she could press her forehead to Abby's. She sighed and wondered how she had lost Abby's trust so easily.

"I know," Abby said. She gave Ziva a quick kiss. "I know I'm being stupid." She ran her hand up Ziva's back. "We're just so new and there's some woman from Israel suddenly hitting on you. I'm still getting used to the idea that you want me."

"I do," Ziva swore. "More than you know."

"Okay." Abby gave a quick nod. "Duly noted." She glanced around the empty stairwell. "Now, how 'bout you kiss me senseless before you take me to the lab?"

Ziva laughed and pressed Abby firmly against the wall again and proceeded to do just that.


"Wilbur!" Abby squealed when she saw the Marine waiting in front of her lab.

"Ma'am," he said politely. He held an extra large cup of coffee at arm's length when Abby gave him a short, one armed drive-by-hugging.

Ziva checked the lab and then led Abby inside.

"What the hell?" Abby ran to her desk. "Where's the report you promised on the guy that replaced me?" She spun and faced Ziva. "New lab guy is obviously insane. My stuff is completely messed up."

Ziva and Wilbur examined the neatly arranged papers and supplies on the desk. They looked at each other and shrugged in unison.

"Look at this," Abby demanded. "This should be over here," she said as she moved a stapler approximately three inches to the left. "And this, well, this shouldn't even be here." She grabbed a Sharpie pen and grouchily carried it to the lab table and put it next to the unused slides. "Chaos," Abby said and then folded her arms over her chest.

"Complete chaos," Ziva agreed solemnly.

Wilbur raised an eyebrow and looked at Ziva. She was known for her lethal skills, could kill with any implement, could kill with her bare hands, and Wilbur was terrified of her. 'Abby-whipped,' he thought. He wouldn't dare say that out loud, in fact, he'd take that thought to the grave because if he spoke that thought, Ziva would send him to his grave. Instead, he quietly sipped his black coffee like a good Marine.

Abby sat on her chair and spun. When she stopped, she looked at Ziva with a serious expression. "I think new lab guy is hatching a plot."

That got Ziva's full attention. She moved closer.

Abby's eyes narrowed. "I scanned the vending machine when we came in and every candy bar that does not have nougat is gone," Abby said. "The only candy left? Nougat!"

Ziva sighed and shook her head. She knew Abby had a deep-seated hatred of all things nougat. She should have realized something was wrong when Abby had paused at the snack area to give the vending machine a dirty look.

"So," Abby said as she raised one finger in the air. "Either he ate all the good candy, ignoring the fact that other people may hate nougat too, which is selfish and a little evil…" Abby paced, grabbing a pencil and tapping it to her lip. "Or… he knows that I hate nougat… and left the nougat to taunt me, which is evil beyond evil." She pointed the pencil at Ziva as she finished her argument.

Ziva took the pencil. "When I compiled his dossier, I saw no mention of nougat," she said in a completely serious tone. She actually had done a complete background check on the temporary lab technician who replaced Abby the previous days. The man was harmless.

"You did check him, didn't you?" Abby paused and then slapped her arm. "Ziva." She rolled her eyes and almost hugged her lover, but then remembered Wilbur was still present.

Ziva blushed. "When I go out today, I will bring you back a candy bar without the demonic nougat," she promised.

Abby couldn't resist any longer. She hugged Ziva, inhaling her lover's scent as if she could take in Ziva's essence with it.

Wilbur was doing his best to blend into the wall. He didn't move until Ziva and Abby said their goodbyes and Ziva left. As soon as Ziva was gone, Wilbur sighed and slightly relaxed.


An hour later, Ziva and McGee were at Kenneth Shaffer's apartment. After McGee failed to find anything on Mawher's confiscated computer, he suspected there might be an external hard drive hidden at the apartment. Gibbs sent Ziva along so she could add a fresh set of eyes.

Half an hour into the second search revealed nothing and McGee was getting frustrated. "Maybe we should go," he suggested.

"No," Ziva said, drawing the word out. She stood in the center of the room and turned slowly, her eyes taking in everything. "There is something else here." She tapped a finger on her lip. "I can feel it." Years of observing dangerous situations, where missing even a minute detail could be deadly, had honed Ziva's ability to read a scene. Sometimes her subconscious picked up on a tiny detail and her body would go on high alert before she could pinpoint the source.

McGee waited, remaining silent as he watched Ziva's eyes scan the room. She was like a hawk, high in the sky, searching a field for a juicy mouse in tall grass hundreds of yards below.

She sighed, frustrated.

"Well, at least we don't have two roomfuls of evidence to log," he said cheerfully. McGee always found the bright side of any situation. It was one of the things Ziva admired most about him.

"I will log whatever we find," Ziva offered. She would find something. She could feel it.

"Great," McGee said. "It took seven hours and a team from Homeland Security to deal with all the stolen stuff from Ghazi Nasser's place. I'd be happy if I never saw another evidence slip in my life."

Ziva nodded and continued her scrutiny of the small space, slowly spinning several more times. She rubbed her chin and then squatted in the center of the room, changing her perspective before scanning in each direction again. Something caught her eye.

"There," she said after a moment. She went to the wall and pointed at four minute round indentations in the carpet.

McGee came over and looked at the marks. He had to lean down because they were faint, barely more than small areas where the carpet fiber was pressed a bit lower than the rest.

"The chair," Ziva said triumphantly.

McGee retrieved the chair and brought it to the marks. He carefully lined the feet of the chair up with the indentations on the carpet. He looked at it, confused as to what came next.

Ziva leaned her weight onto her heels and rubbed her chin, eyes alert and constantly scanning the room. She nodded at a vent on the wall. She was already wearing latex gloves, so she wasn't worried about disturbing any prints. She climbed up on the chair to reach the vent. Her knife was in her hand before McGee could offer her his Leatherman multi-tool.

"What'cha got?" he asked as she removed the vent cover.

"Not a hard drive." Ziva sighed unhappily. She reached in and pulled out two boxes of ammo. "Thirty-eight caliber," she said as she held out the first box to him.

"That's for the gun at the hospital," McGee said, carefully taking the ammunition in his gloved hands.

"But this is not," Ziva said. "Nine millimeter."

"Great, he's got another weapon," McGee said as he took the second box of ammunition.

"It gets worse," Ziva said as she reached far back into the vent. She looked down at McGee and held out a clear plastic box with black foam packing that had a section cut out for something tubular. "Silencer," Ziva said. "He has learned from practicing on you and Tony."

"So now, he can get more than one shot in before Tony hides like a little girl," McGee said.

Ziva nodded grimly.


DiNozzo was in Abby's lab complaining. "I've had it, Abby," he whined like a little girl. "McGee ate all the Ho-Hos."

"That doesn't sound like Tim." Abby's eyes widened. "It was probably the evil new lab guy. Did you see the candy selection?" she asked indignantly.

"Nougat," DiNozzo said with a disgusted snarl.

"Nougat," Abby confirmed angrily. "I'm thinking of changing his name to evil stinky new lab guy," she added. She crinkled her brow. "Or maybe stinky evil new lab guy. I haven't decided, but I'm thinking I should lead with stinky because, well, hello? Take a sniff."

DiNozzo frowned, but sniffed as ordered. "Apparently stinky new lab guy has an aversion to showers," he agreed. There was a slight lingering odor of sweat.

"Stinky evil new lab guy. Don't forget the nougat," Abby said.

"Maybe he ate the freakin' Ho-Hos," DiNozzo said as he slammed a hand on the counter.

Abby spun toward Wilbur. "If you see stinky evil new lab guy, shoot him."

Wilbur saluted. "Yes, ma'am." He sipped his black coffee and then placed it on the counter behind him. He wanted it as far from the things Abby worked with as possible. She currently had tests running on a mysterious toxin and was testing some blood samples on another machine.

Abby glanced over at Wilbur. She always felt safer when Wilbur sipped his Starbuck's coffee. It made him look like a mini-Gibbs, or rather, a maxi-Gibbs, considering he was six feet three inches tall, and not a bald clone from a spy movie.

"Hey, did Ducky get anything off the disembodied hand?" DiNozzo asked. "I half-expected it to crawl away in the night."

"Not a happy subject," Abby said with a glare. "I still haven't forgiven you for that."

Wilbur frowned at DiNozzo. He was also remembering the hand incident.

Abby poked her camera link to Ducky's lab, but nothing happen. She poked it again. Nothing. "Stinky evil new lab guy is so dead." She marched toward the door. "He killed my camera link."

"Fiendish bastard," DiNozzo said. "Right?" he asked Wilbur, who was following Abby.

"Yes, sir," Wilbur said as he raced after Abby.


Ziva and McGee returned with snacks and a huge supply of candy for Abby.

"Here ya' go, Tony." McGee hurled a bag of Ho-Hos at his friend.

"Sweet." DiNozzo opened the package happily. "Ah, Ho-Hos, a snack cake so great they named it twice."

"And we all know how partial you are to 'hoes," McGee said.

"Where is Gibbs?" Ziva asked. She had an evidence envelope and was logging the ammunition and silencer box.

"Big meeting upstairs," DiNozzo said around the entire Ho-Ho in his mouth. He completely ignored McGee's jibe. "That IDF guy Alon is there and Gibbs really doesn't like him." He stuffed the second Ho-Ho in without swallowing the first.

"Geeze, Tony." McGee looked a little nauseous. "You'd think you never had a Ho-Ho."

DiNozzo swallowed, with difficulty. "Blame stinky evil new lab guy," DiNozzo said. "That's what we're calling him now," he explained before they asked. "I call him Stinky for short."

"Stinky?" Ziva looked dubious. She held up a hand. "Never mind. I do not want to know." She went back to her evidence. She glanced up the stairs, toward the office that used to be Jenny's, and scowled. She and Gibbs agreed about Alon. She didn't like the Israeli Defense Forces officer either.


Abby returned to her lab even grouchier. Ducky had no new information from the severed hand, but he was full of compliments for the 'wonderful young man that stood in your stead,' and even asked Abby to follow up on some culture samples Dave left running. The cultures were from the trace evidence 'Dave' had taken from the hand. 'Dave,' that was what Ducky called Stinky.

"Stood in my stead?" Abby asked Wilbur when they passed through her lab door. "He ruined my camera link. That cannot be forgiven." She turned to Wilbur, who had his now cold coffee halfway to his lips. "You need to put a BOLO out on Stinky."

Wilbur shrugged and gulped down his coffee.

"Well, you do." Abby sat at her desk and twirled one of her braids, and then sighed. "Stupid stinky 'Dave.'" She went to the incubator and decided she'd better check the cultures to see what had grown overnight. She was not happy to find a perfectly streaked set of Petri dishes. "I guess stinky Dave gets a gold star."

Wilbur really didn't envy stinky Dave. He threw away his empty cup and came closer, curious as to what Abby was doing. "Oh, man," he said and backed away when Abby lifted one of the covers off a Petrie dish. The tiny colonies of bacteria released a wave of odor. It was disgusting, like a mix of month old beer and a moldy pile of socks from a platoon of Marines after a three-day march.

"Stinky Dave even has stinky cultures," Abby said as if her replacement was to blame for the odor. She nodded at the small round colonies on the Petrie dish. They were bright red and they emitted a foul smell. "Probably Kocuria rosea," she explained. "Formerly known as Micrococcus roseus, until there was a fascinating need to reclassify them." She lit a Bunsen burner and used the flame to heat a small metal loop, which she waved in the air to cool. "That's the stinky bacteria collected by stinky Dave."

"Yes, ma'am." Wilbur yawned, wishing he had another cup of coffee.

Abby used the sterilized loop to collect a sample of the bacteria, which she put into a tiny vial used for DNA replication. "Stinky Kocuria rosea, a common airborne bacteria that lives just about everywhere," she said as she worked. "But there are a few exotic strains." She turned to Wilbur and smiled. "Including one that lives in the Antarctic. That one is so cool, Kocuria polaris."

Wilbur listened silently. He was happy that Abby's mood was improving now that she was back doing her lab work.

Abby turned and gave him a huge smile. "Oh, and one from the Mediterranean, which this one could be, what with blown up hand guy possibly being from the other side of the world."

"Uh huh," Wilbur said with another yawn. He really wanted another coffee.

Ten minutes later Abby was back to her chipper self. Her music was blaring and she was now hopeful that stinky Dave's bacteria might actually be useful. Once she finished the PCR, which would replicate thousands of copies of the DNA, she could run it and get a DNA 'fingerprint' profile. That could be matched to a sample if they found any other suspects.

"Ma'am?" Wilbur asked uncertainly.

Abby turned to see her huge Marine slapping one hand toward the tabletop as he slumped to the ground.

"Wilbur!" she yelled and rushed to his side. It was instinct, to see if he was okay. It wasn't until she had her hand to his neck and felt a rapid pulse that she thought to call for help. She turned to get her phone and saw Mikel Mawher dropping to the floor from an air conditioning duct in the ceiling.

"I wouldn't," Mikel said when he saw her start to scream. He aimed a gun at her.

Abby stared at him and then the gun. Even in the middle of the crisis, she rattled off the facts in her head. 'Glock model 19, nine millimeter, 15 round capacity, double action, 4.02-inch barrel, polymer frame, matte finish, fixed sights, and a silencer. I am so screwed,' she thought grimly. The silencer was the problem. He could shoot fifteen times and no one would hear. One shot would kill.

Mikel paced, his eyes never leaving Abby.

Abby started to breathe a bit more heavily and suddenly a mystery was solved. Mikel gave off the foul odor of rancid sweat. He must have been hiding at NCIS for a while. She glanced at the camera link and sighed. It looked like she owed Dave an apology.

Mikel switched off the music. "What's the matter, Abby? Nothing to say for once?" His tone was cruel and his eyes darted nervously.

Abby's eyes were drawn to her desk. Her taser was in the middle drawer of that desk. "What did you do to Wilbur?" she asked.

"Me? Nothing," Mikel said, but then he laughed. The B-movie cackling would have been funny if the man doing it hadn't had a wide-eyed, insane expression and a gun. "Now, the eight doses of Roofies I put in his coffee when you were gone… that might be doing something to him."

Abby bent down next to Wilbur and ran her fingers through his hair. It was close-cropped on the sides and a bit longer on top, the way Gibbs wore his. It made Wilbur look incredibly young. Abby closed her eyes. 'Ziva, please come to the lab,' she thought as she fought to keep from panicking.


DiNozzo threw a wad of paper at McGee. "You're off the hook for those Ho-hos."

"Told you I didn't eat them," McGee said. "Who did?"

"Stinky," DiNozzo said.

"Enough!" Ziva said. She slammed her hands on the desk. "Who is this 'stinky'? Who names a person stinky?"

"Stinky ate all the good stuff in the vending machine," DiNozzo said as if Ziva had a relapse of her bomb related hypothermia. He sighed and rolled his eyes. "The stinky lab guy that messed up Abby's precious geek toys," DiNozzo said as if talking to an imbecile.

"You really are a child," Ziva said with a sigh. "Why exactly do you call him stinky?" she asked through gritted teeth.

"Cuz he left Abby's lab smelling like a locker room." DiNozzo he lifted one hand and pointed in the air. "Stinky."

Ziva felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Her expression showed her racing thoughts as her conscious mind tried to catch up to what her subconscious was trying to tell her. She reached up and touched her shirt where it covered her Magen David. She could feel the familiar press of the six-pointed shape against her skin as her mind bounced over the previous days' events.

"What?" McGee asked. He put his sandwich down and stood. "Ziva?"

Ziva's face paled. "When Gibbs came back from the hospital shooting, after you went to Shaffer's apartment, did the guard stop you at the gate?"

DiNozzo suddenly knew something was wrong. Ziva looked scared and her question was entirely too specific for his taste. "No. They always wave Gibbs through."

"Mawher is here. McGee, come with me." Ziva sprinted for the stairwell. "Get Gibbs," she yelled over her shoulder to DiNozzo. She opened the door and took the stairs three at a time.

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Ziva paused at the bottom of the stairs. When she had responded to Abby's 911 text several days earlier, she had rushed in without any thought other than to get to her lover. Now, after hearing about Mawher with Dr. Murray, she didn't want to risk spooking him. He had been willing to shoot the doctor. He would certainly shoot Abby.

She opened the stairwell door slowly, taking a quick look toward Abby's basement lab. The lights were out. The sight of the darkened lab made Ziva's body chill. She turned and saw McGee coming down the stairs to join her and she formulated a plan.

In the lab, Abby was trying to stall. "Mikel, you really don't want to do this." Abby glanced to her lab coat hanging on her chair. She cringed to realize that it held her cell phone and the knife Ziva had given her. "You like me. You really don't want to hurt me," Abby tried.

"But I do," he said calmly. "And I'm going to." He twisted her wrist.

"Ouch," Abby cried out. "That hurts," she said.

"That's the point, Abby," he said cruelly and then wrenched her arm painfully. "Where's your friend?" His tone was like ice. "Ziva?"

"Why?" Abby asked as he dragged her to the back of the lab. Her heart pounded. She was amazed he couldn't hear it.

"Your friends killed my best friend," Mikel said, almost sounding sane. "I'm going to return the favor." He slammed Abby's back against the wall of the basement and pinned her there by pressing the gun's silencer to her forehead. "Remember these?" He pulled a set of handcuffs from his pocket and clicked them onto her left wrist. "These aren't the ones we used, of course, but they'll do." He used her cuffed wrist to spin her around and press her face to the wall.

Abby hissed as the second cuff closed, digging into her wrist and leaving her helpless. She heard someone in the hall, but before she could turn to look, she was thrown face down to the floor. She hit hard, landing on her chest because her cuffed hands couldn't brace her landing. Before she could even take a breath, Mikel was on top of her. His hand wrapped roughly over her mouth as the lab door opened.

"Shh," Ziva hissed extremely loudly. "Abby must be at lunch." She laughed. It was a sexy laugh that was completely out of place.

"She's gonna kill us," McGee said.

Abby could see their silhouettes, and what struck her was that their bodies were entirely too close together.

"Abby will not mind, Timmy." Ziva tossed McGee into the closed door and kissed him. It was a brief kiss and then she was pulling him to the floor. "Hurry," she said with husky laugh. "Get your pants down."

Abby's mind was about to implode. She was being held hostage, her lover was obviously doing some spy pretend sex, with McGee of all people, and that was going to be the last thing she saw in life.

Mikel squeezed his hand tighter around Abby's mouth. He yanked her onto her knees beside him. He leaned to look around the table. The two people on the floor didn't seem to notice him.

"Wait," McGee said. "Get this off," he yanked Ziva's black NCIS jacket off and flung it across the room.

Ziva laughed huskily and ripped her shirt off and tossed it away as well. She made certain she threw it over the table so Mawher would see it. "Like what you see, Timmy?" she asked. Her eyes had adjusted quickly and she was taking in every detail of the room. Sunlight from the small window at ground level across the room cast enough light to allow her to make out where Mawher was hiding. Under the table she could see Abby's legs. Abby was on her knees, so she was conscious.

"The bra too," McGee ordered. "Take it off. Now." He pushed her to the floor and covered her body with his and reached for her bra. He tilted his head and scanned the room, spotting Abby's feet protruding.

"Tim, you're so forceful," Ziva said. "Uh," she said loudly then whimpered.

Mawher was crawling behind the table, trying to get a better look. He fully intended to kill both of the agents, but he wanted to enjoy the show for a bit first.

Abby squirmed, but Mawher quickly pressed the gun to her neck and she stilled. She couldn't see her friends, but she quickly decided if McGee lived through this, she was going to kill him. She didn't want anyone else touching Ziva's bra or what it contained.

"Oh, God," Ziva said. Her voice was full of passion, but she was turned to the side, her eyes tracking the bodies behind the desk. She couldn't make out where their hands were so she had to improvise. "The table," Ziva said in an impatient tone. "Put me on the table like last time."

McGee stood and pulled her to her feet and pivoted so his back was to Mawher. Ziva guided him with her hands, letting him know that she wanted to be facing Mawher. McGee lifted Ziva and carried her to the table along the wall opposite from where Abby was being held. He sucked her collarbone, loudly. "I can't get my fly down," he said as he slammed Ziva onto the table. She was now sitting with her legs hanging over the table, her back against the wall. Her gun was in her right hand, hidden between their two bodies. McGee removed her black bra and sent it flying through the air. It slid to a stop a few feet from Mawher.

Mawher grabbed Abby by the hair and pulled her along with him as he crawled to one end of the table. The gun was pointing at the floor as he lifted his head above the desk to get a quick peek. His eyes locked on the two bodies together near the wall. In the near darkness he had time to register that the scantily clad woman was looking directly at him. He saw her brown eyes behind the sights of a very big gun and then a flash.

Abby flinched when she heard a gunshot, but the sound came from everywhere. She threw her body to the ground as glass showered down on her like sharp little snowflakes. The warm spray of blood settled to the ground around her but the handcuffs kept her from moving.

"Abby?" Ziva called out as she ran toward the table.

"She's fine," Gibbs said from the small ground level window behind Abby.

Abby managed to roll over and sit up just as McGee turned on the lights. She looked up at Gibbs, who had his gun drawn, having obviously just shot through the window. She glanced at Mawher and almost threw up. The top of head was pretty much gone.

"Abby?" Ziva repeated as she came around the table. She sighed in relief and scooped her lover up and half-carried her away from Mawher's body.

"I knew you'd come," Abby whispered as she leaned against Ziva's naked upper body.

"Shh, mon Chaton," Ziva whispered. "It is over." She skillfully unlocked the handcuffs without releasing Abby from her embrace.

Abby wrapped her arms around Ziva. The contact calmed her. She suddenly stiffened.

"Wilbur!" Abby yelled. She turned, not releasing her hold on Ziva.

"I'll check him." McGee handed Ziva her shirt. His cheeks were bright red. He hurried toward Wilbur.

Just as Ziva pulled on her shirt, Ducky and DiNozzo came through the doorway. DiNozzo scanned the room, gun drawn.

"Ducky, Wilbur's hurt," McGee said nervously.

"I don't see any blood," Ducky said as he knelt next to the young Marine.

"Mikel drugged him." Abby squeezed Ziva closer. "He put eight doses of Rohypnol in his coffee."

"We'll get him to the hospital," Ducky said as he tended to the downed man. "An ambulance is already en route."

DiNozzo went behind the table to disarm Mawher's body. He took one look and spun. "That's… oh my God." He covered his mouth.

Gibbs came into the lab door, having quickly made his way around the building and inside. "What's the matter, DiNozzo?" he asked. "Never seen a simultaneous double tap?"

Ducky chuckled. He was enjoying DiNozzo's discomfort. He looked toward the back of the lab and his trained eye noticed the blood sprayed across the walls. It looked like a cloud of the red liquid had spontaneously formed and then exploded. "If I were to hazard a guess, I would say that Jethro signaled the kill shots from that window." Ducky pointed to the basement window.

Gibbs moved over to check Abby. In truth, he had fired when he saw Mawher lower his weapon, as had Ziva. The shots had been in unison because the two shooters took their shots the instant Abby was out of danger. Gibbs paused beside the two women. "You okay?" he whispered.

Abby nodded, but she wasn't going to move. She was clinging to Ziva with her face buried in Ziva's hair.

"One shot did that?" DiNozzo moved as far away from Mawher's half-head as he could.

"Jethro did say double tap," Ducky pointed out. He looked back at the wall. "The effects of two bullets arriving in unison, the forces from different projectiles at intersecting angles… well, obviously the effects are… extreme."

"Extremely gross," DiNozzo said.

McGee stood next to Ziva and cleared his throat.

Ziva gave him her attention.

He held out her bra.

Ziva took the bra and stuffed it into a pocket, knowing Abby needed comfort more than Ziva needed the bra back in place.

Abby's possessive side came to the surface. "You kissed her," she said as she pulled out of Ziva's embrace.

McGee opened and closed his mouth, but no sound came out. He could recognize a furious, jealous lover and he knew Abby was capable of killing him without getting caught. He was pretty sure she wouldn't, but an irate Abby was nothing to take lightly.

"I know," DiNozzo said. "Bad enough Ziva got blown up. I'm not sure she'll ever get over the trauma of kissing McGee." It didn't even occur to him that Abby was more bothered by the kiss than Ziva was.

"Let me get you out of here," Ziva suggested. She took a step back and flinched when she twisted her torso.

"Did I hurt you?" McGee asked. He touched Ziva's shoulder, realizing he'd been rough with her during their improvised love scene.

"I am fine," Ziva said. "My wounds were already healing." She pulled Abby to the door. The smell of blood in the small lab was overwhelming and the number of people in the crowded space was quickly heating the room. That would only increase the sickeningly sweet smell.

"You're not fine Ziva," DiNozzo said with obvious concern. "You kissed Probie, for God sake."

Ziva smiled sweetly and met DiNozzo's eyes. "Actually, Timothy is a much better kisser than you are."

DiNozzo's eyes widened.

"Better hygiene too." Ziva patted his arm as she and Abby left the room.

"Probie a better kisser than me? Probie? No way," DiNozzo said firmly. "There's no way that's true."

"Timmy's a great kisser," Abby agreed. "You should try it," she added with a wicked smirk.

"Now I am gonna throw up." DiNozzo sagged against the wall and pouted.


Abby scrubbed her skin for thirty minutes, removing every trace of blood. She hadn't allowed Ziva out of her reach. That suited Ziva.

Ziva was getting more concerned with each passing minute. Abby was too quiet, sitting in the bullpen at Ziva's desk for twenty minutes, without saying anything.

Abby was in the chair with her elbows resting on her knees. She was still dealing with the shock of having a man she had dated stalk her, yet again. Now she had the image of his head instantly turning to goo. That made her think of the bomber guy. That made her think how close she had come to losing Ziva.

Ziva was sitting on the edge of her desk, watching Abby with clear concern. "Hey, would you like a Caf-Pow?" Ziva asked. "I will send McGee."

"Sure thing," McGee said as he stood eagerly. "The Boss is busy upstairs. I'm sure he won't mind."

"No thanks," Abby said quietly. She hadn't even moved at the mention of Caf-Pow.

"Would you like to go home?" Ziva asked. She rested a hand on Abby's back.

Abby smiled at the question. She lifted her head and looked up at Ziva. "Is it bad that when you ask that, the first thing I thought was how nice it would be relax on the couch with you. Your couch."

Ziva crinkled her brow and smiled. "Why would that be bad?" She ran a hand through Abby's hair.

"Home," Abby said. She raised one eyebrow, waiting for Ziva to catch up. "Your couch."

Ziva's smile brightened. "You think of my apartment as home?"

Abby blushed and looked down at the floor. She nodded.

"Good," Ziva whispered into Abby's ear. She lingered there, nuzzling her cheek against Abby's face.

McGee decided he needed to completely overhaul the first three chapters of his next book. 'No way is Lisa going to end up with Tommy,' he thought. The characters he based on Ziva and Tony needed a serious rewrite.

DiNozzo came down the stairs from the Director's office. He had an excited expression, like someone had just offered him free candy, porn, and hookers. Apparently he had recovered from seeing Mawher's body and from the insult to his kissing skills. He rushed to McGee's desk. "Probie!"

"What?" McGee asked suspiciously.

"You have got to see the woman in the Director's office." DiNozzo put his hand to his chest and let out a shaking breath. "Seriously, this is the hottest woman I have ever seen." He looked at McGee, his expression completely sincere. "Ever," he said again. "And that includes on the big screen."

Abby was intrigued enough to break her silence. "Better than Angelina Jolie?" She turned and watched as DiNozzo ran a comb through his hair.

DiNozzo waved a hand at her dismissively. "This woman makes Angelina look like Joan Rivers- Joan Rivers after the bad plastic surgery."

"Wow," Ziva said. She turned as well. "I thought you and McGee named Miss Jolie the hottest woman ever, for all time?"

"I hadn't met my future wife yet," DiNozzo said as he pointed toward the Director's office with his comb. "She resets the hot scale."

"Now, I am curious," McGee said. He stood and looked up the stairs. "Who is she?"

"My future wife," DiNozzo said. "And she has great taste. She was glaring at that Alon guy from the IDF."

"I like her already," Ziva said.

Abby chuckled, her mood improving with the familiar banter. "What's the future Mrs. DiNozzo look like, Tony?"

"Heaven. A Goddess," DiNozzo said. He looked like he was about to spin in a circle and break into song. "Seriously too hot to be a mere mortal." He sighed. "A body to die for. Like if Angelina Joile and Scarlett Johansson were mixed into one incredibly hot body."

"Okay, so she has a nice figure," Abby said. "What else?"

"Not nice," DiNozzo corrected. "The nicest. Ever. And she has naturally wavy black hair and green eyes like emeralds." He looked wistfully at the ceiling. "I want my kids to have those eyes."

"Black hair, green eyes?" Ziva leaned down and whispered in Abby's ear. "Nice combination." She touched Abby's black ponytail and looked into her green eyes.

Abby blushed.

"Are you sure she's even single?" McGee asked.

"Shh!" DiNozzo said. "Here she comes."

McGee was sipping his coffee. He glanced over and his hand froze in place when he saw the incredibly beautiful woman coming down the stairs. His jaw dropped and coffee ran down his chin onto the desk. "Whaa…" He jumped and quickly mopped the coffee up with a handful of napkins, but he didn't take his eyes off the woman.

She was stunning. Her features were chiseled, and her full lips had only a hint of added color. Makeup could only detract from her perfect alabaster skin. Her eyes were like gemstones framed by her delicate black eyebrows. She was walking down the stairs next to Gibbs, and even he seemed distracted by her beauty.

"Wow," Abby said. "I would so totally do her."

Ziva nodded.

"Yeah," DiNozzo said, too distracted to even notice Abby's Sapphic comment.

Gibbs led the woman toward them. She was laughing as she tossed her raven colored hair over one shoulder as she rested a hand on Gibb's arm. If any other woman had tried the maneuver it would have looked false, but the woman was like a Greece Goddess- grace and beauty given human form.

"Wow," Abby said again, gripping Ziva's leg.

Ziva turned and caught Abby's attention. She raised an eyebrow as a hint of jealousy rose to the surface.

"Oh, come on," Abby said in a hushed whisper. "Tell me she's not freakin' hot."

Ziva nodded and looked up just as Gibbs and the Goddess came around the room divider.

DiNozzo rushed forward. "Anthony DiNozzo," he said as he extended his hand. "Agent Anthony DiNozzo."

The Goddess smiled warmly and took his hand. "You introduced yourself upstairs," she said with a kind chuckle. Even her laugh was sexy.

DiNozzo sighed like a giddy schoolgirl meeting all three Jonas brothers.

'She's so freakin' sexy,' Abby thought.

'Oh, this cannot be happening,' Ziva thought. She recognized the sultry voice.

Gibbs led the Goddess past McGee, who was focusing on not swallowing his tongue. Gibbs headed toward Ziva and Abby. "This is Abby Sciuto. She identified the explosive compound."

Abby suddenly got a very bad feeling.

"Thank you, so much," the Goddess said.

Abby's feeling got much worse when she recognized the woman's accent. She should; it was just like Ziva's.

Gibbs pointed to Ziva. "And this is…"

The Goddess cut Gibbs off, "Officer David." She moved forward and took Ziva's hand in both of hers. The Goddess gave Ziva a look that made DiNozzo want to be Ziva and made Abby want to grab Ziva and stake her claim. "So nice to meet you in person, Ziva," the Goddess said. Her eyes caressed Ziva like a lover.

Abby prayed her day couldn't possibly go any worse than it already had. Wasn't seeing Ziva kiss McGee, Mikel killed, and Wilbur nearly killed enough for one day? 'What, does God hate me?' she wondered.

"I am Miss Sadeh. Please, call me Anna," the Goddess said. She pointed toward Ziva's desk. "I see you got the flowers." She gave Ziva a smirk that promised long nights filled with passion.

'Yep. God hates me,' Abby thought.

Ziva smiled, willing her expression to give off nothing other than polite, professional courtesy. "Nice to meet you," she said. She didn't have to look at Abby to know her lover was not happy.

"You're accent is lovely," Anna said. "It reminds me of home." She was still holding Ziva's hand.

"Thank you," Ziva said, as politely as possible. She took her hand back and gave Abby a look that clearly translated as 'this is not my fault.'

"Miss Sadeh," Alon said as he suddenly appeared from around the corner. "The limo is waiting." He pointed impatiently toward the exit, pausing only long enough to shoot Ziva a glare.

Anna nodded politely and then gave Ziva a parting look. "Let me know if you've considered that dinner." Her tone and heated look made it clear that dinner was not all that was being offered. And then she was gone, like hurricane blowing out to sea, leaving without a second thought to the damage she left in her wake.

Abby was miserable. No one could feel worse than she currently did. She heard DiNozzo clear his throat and looked over at him.

"Ziva," DiNozzo said as rushed toward the former Mossad officer. "Keep your mitts off my wife."

"My mitts did nothing," Ziva told him, but her eyes went immediately to Abby.

"Knock it off," Gibbs said.

All eyes locked on Gibbs. He sounded less happy than Abby looked, and that was saying a lot.

"Homeland Security has some new intel. They think our bombers were part of a larger cell and their informant says they're ready to move." Gibbs sighed as he looked at DiNozzo.

DiNozzo was looking at Ziva like she just slept with his sister and shot his puppy.

"I did nothing," Ziva insisted as her eyes once again found Abby. 'This is not good,' Ziva thought.

"Ziva," Gibbs said sharply. "You're on loan to the IDF starting tomorrow. You're with them until we get these guys."

Ziva slumped into her chair. 'Just kill me, now,' she thought without bothering to look at Abby.

"David?" Gibbs asked. "You hear me?"

"Yes." Ziva lifted her head and nodded to Gibbs. She turned her head and smiled weakly at Abby.

Abby looked like she wanted to sleep with Ziva's sister and steal her puppy because this was still Abby, and Abby didn't kill puppies.

McGee looked from DiNozzo, to Ziva, to Abby, and promptly started to giggle. This was going in his next book.

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Abby was in the stairwell pouting. There was no other word for it. She was sitting with her back against the wall and her arms crossed tightly over her chest. She was making herself angrier with each passing second. All she could picture was stupid Anna Sadeh and her stupid beautiful eyes and her stupid perfect figure and her stupid flowers on Ziva's stupid desk.

The door opened and Ziva came into the stairwell. She knew she would find Abby there because the lab was a crime scene and Abby wouldn't want to be there until it was thoroughly cleaned.

"What do you want?" Abby asked.

"Abby," Ziva said in a pleading tone. She knelt in front of her lover. "I did not do anything wrong."

"You said she was hot," Abby said without looking up.

"No," Ziva said. She stood and paced. She was beginning to lose her temper. "You said she was hot and I merely agreed."

"Exactly!" Abby said as if she was catching Ziva cheating.

"You said you would 'do her.' I did nothing," Ziva yelled.

"You're going to work with her starting tomorrow." Abby climbed to her feet so she could face Ziva.

"I was ordered to." Ziva's voice grew louder.

"She sent you flowers," Abby countered.

"Yes." Ziva spun and pinned Abby in her gaze. "She sent me flowers." Her eyes narrowed. "I did not send them to her." She tossed her hands in the air. "Ben zonah!" she cursed in Hebrew, then switched to French. "Je ne peux pas croire que ceci se produit. Dites-moi ce que j'ai fait mal?" She waved a hand at Abby. "Dites-moi."

"Yeah, sexy when we're in bed. Right now? Not so much," Abby said with more than little venom.

"I said, 'tell me what I have done wrong?'" Ziva explained, leaving off part of her yelled comments. "Tell me," Ziva demanded. She locked eyes with Abby and let out an angry puff of air. "You cannot."

"She's from Israel," Abby said lamely.

"So, of course I am going to sleep with her." Ziva opened the door and left Abby in the stairwell.

"Well… you can't just leave… we… we haven't made up yet." Abby stared at the door. Abby was used to yelling to get her feelings out and then calmly discussing things. That's what her family had always done growing up. Of course, her family 'yelled' in sign language, but they always made up as soon as they blew off some steam. Except Ziva hadn't waited for the calm part of the discussion. "Crap," Abby said as she went after Ziva.

Abby went to Ziva's desk and found it empty. She noticed the flowers were no longer on the desk. They were in the trashcan next to the desk. She turned to DiNozzo. "Where's Ziva?"

"The wife stealer went to the bathroom," DiNozzo said as he crossed his arms over his chest and glared at the flowers in the trashcan.

"Get over it, Tony," Abby said angrily. "It's not Ziva's fault some woman hits on her." She was doubly angry with him. His stupidity forced her to face her own childish reactions.

"But…" DiNozzo watched as Abby hurried toward the restroom.

"Tony, stop digging," McGee said. "For the love of God, stop digging."

DiNozzo looked at him with a confused expression.

"The hole you're standing in?" McGee said. "Stop digging yourself deeper into it."

Ziva was in the restroom. She slammed her hand into the wall and then sighed. She looked in the mirror and was shocked to see how much emotion was on her face. "I cannot do this," she told her reflection. She was a spy. She should push down any emotion. Emotion was weakness. Emotions got you hurt. They got you killed. Abby's distrust cut deeper than Ziva could have imagined. She felt a wave of fear wash over her, threatening to drown her.

"No," Ziva told her reflection. She took a deep breath and flipped the internal switch she had developed with years of undercover work. She felt the pain and every other emotion fade into nothingness. This was familiar. Logic. Survival. No emotion. This was safe. Now, with everything forced down where it should have never been released, she was ready to do the only thing she could think of to protect everyone. It would keep Abby safe. It would not hurt because Ziva now felt nothing. She grabbed the door and yanked it open, her mind made up.

"Ziva," Abby said with a startled squeak.

"Not now." Ziva moved around Abby.

"Yes, now." Abby followed after her.

Ziva stopped without turning. "This will not work," she said flatly. Her voice was devoid of emotion.

Abby's jaw went slack.

"My life is too full of intrigue, and people with agendas, and knives at my back." Ziva risked looking at Abby. "I cannot be with someone who does not trust me, who will not trust me."

"I do trust you," Abby insisted. She was stunned.

Sadness flashed over Ziva's features, but she clenched her jaw and the flicker of anguish was replaced with a terrifyingly cold, lifeless expression as she shoved the emotion that had briefly surfaced back into a box deep inside her mind. "We both know that is not true," said casually. She turned and left Abby momentarily unable to move.

The pain that had flashed over Ziva's face, pain Abby knew she'd put there, cut Abby deeply. The utter lack of emotion that had covered the pain scared Abby. "I want to apologize," Abby finally said.

Ziva froze and slowly turned. She was completely shut down. Her eyes were dead. "Too little, too late." She spun and walked away leaving a stunned Abby standing in the hall.

Gibbs was sitting down with a fresh cup of coffee when Ziva came to a stop in front of the desk.

"Gibbs?" she said gruffly.

"David," he replied. He looked at her. Something was off, missing.

"If there is nothing else, I need to take a personal day," Ziva said.

"Personal day?" His eyes scanned her. She was standing in obvious discomfort and the normally beautiful woman had lost her radiance. "Don't you mean a sick day?"

"I am not at my best," Ziva admitted. It was true. Her body ached and she felt raw, inside and out. "But I can serve if required."

"This isn't Mossad. We don't work our people into the ground," he paused and let his voice take on teasing tone. "Unless necessary." His eyes met hers and he was overcome with genuine concern, but not for the injuries. The spark he was accustomed to seeing in her dark eyes was gone. She looked like the stoic Mossad officer she had been when he first met her. "You should have Ducky look you over."

"I will be fine. I would like to go off duty," she stated. "I will report to the Embassy in the morning."

"Okay," he said slowly. "Still think Ducky should have a look."

"No, thank you." She turned and left, heading to the elevator. Once inside she took a deep breath, needing to clear her head. A plan formulated. When she reached the ground floor she didn't go to the parking lot, she went across the Navy Yard to the gym.

She changed into workout clothes she kept in a locker at the gym. She was trying to burn off some steam. She wasn't successful. An hour later, she was still giving a heavy-bag a severe beating.

Two Marines leaned against a wall in the gym and stared at Ziva. "She is hardcore," the shorter one said, pointing to her grey sweatshirt. Her shoulder had a growing spot of red. Blood was seeping through with the sweat.

The taller Marine nodded. "I spar with her sometimes." He watched as she proceeded to give the heavy-bag a series of kicks and punches that would make a professional cage fighter cry. "Not today," he said under his breath.

Ziva wasn't getting enough distraction from the workout. She yanked the white tape off of her fingers and tossed it into the trash and headed for the locker room. She left her street clothes in her locker. Instead, she tossed her badge, wallet, phone, and knife into a small waist pack. Next, she secured her Sig Sauer P228 snuggly into her paddle holster, and then tucked that onto the right side of the pack. She felt naked without the familiar weight at her hip. The final addition was her backup gun, a Smith & Wesson Model 60, which she strapped into place on her left ankle beneath her sweats. That was Ziva's version of traveling light.

She left the building and started jogging. She had to hone her focus to avoid limping from the pain in her thigh. As if to mock her, the sky opened up and rain began pouring from the clouds. She growled and continued toward her goal.

She went left on M Street and continued to Maine Avenue. She was beginning to feel her body protest rather loudly. She eventually reached the Arlington Memorial Bridge and continued on, relieved when she finally saw the gates of Arlington Cemetery. She was soaked, but the cold numbed her aching body and her emotions. She paused at the main gate when a young man came out from the guardhouse. His eyes widened in surprise. It was Ellison, a guard she knew from her frequent visits.

He'd seen Ziva at one grave on many occasions. Sometimes she would drink a toast to her lost friend. He'd had to explain that liquor wasn't technically allowed. They had compromised, and Ziva left a thermos of very expensive brandy in his gatehouse. She could toast her lost friend, just not using a liquor bottle. In exchange, she would also bring an occasional bottle of Jonathan Tishbi Reserve Brandy, an Israeli brandy distilled like cognac. Ellison had mentioned enjoying cognac, and Ziva was proud of the brandy her country produced.

Ellison liked Ziva. She was a quiet woman, but the few brief conversations they had shared revealed a witty, observant person who never forgot any detail he shared about his young family. He enjoyed their conversations as much as the Israeli brandy. Seeing Ziva's current state concerned him. She looked like the proverbial drowned rat. After closer scrutiny, he decided that the rat had been chewed up by a few cats before it succumbed to drowning, or perhaps succumbed to sharp force trauma. "Rough day?" he asked.

Ziva bent forward and leaned against one knee and nodded.

He brought the thermos out. "With this weather, bet you wish this was hot coffee," he said with a friendly smile.

She lifted her head and looked at him. Her eyes were vacant.

"Maybe not," he said as he handed it to her.

"Thank you." She took the thermos and walked through the quiet space. The brandy had been one of Jenny's favorites. Ziva needed to talk to Jenny and she couldn't do that completely sober. She wasn't one to drink to solve her problems, but after the day she'd had, it sounded almost reasonable. With the day she was facing in the morning, it seemed downright prudent.

Jenny was at the far end of the cemetery. Ziva liked the walk. She could see the tourist-filled area near JFK's Eternal Flame off in the distance if she wanted to look, but usually she stayed in the quiet areas and let the solemn emotion of the place ground her.

She came to a stop near the headstone she needed to see. Somehow the reality of Jenny's name etched in the cold stone always surprised her. Ziva always expected Jenny to step out of the shadows and hug her and say it was all a mistake, just some secret op. Ziva had to settle for a drink from the thermos and the memories it triggered of the time she worked with Jenny throughout Eastern Europe.

"Yes, I know I look like shit," Ziva told the headstone as she sat on the soggy grass. She sipped from the thermos and then poured a tiny bit of the amber liquid at the base of the stone. "Shalom," she whispered and then touched Jenny's name, feeling the carved letters with reverence. The brandy wasn't Jenny's absolute favorite. Ziva sipped the 1976 Coeur Dlion Calvados. Jenny's favorite was the 1970 vintage, but Ziva hadn't been able to find it the last time she restocked.

She reached up and felt her Magen David. It was a gift from her mother, a fact she shared with very few. Her mother had gave it to her on her twelfth birthday and told her, 'No matter what your father tells you, Ziva, your heart is your greatest strength. Wear this shield over your heart and it will always be safe.' Her mother had been wrong. Ziva had allowed the gentle side of her heart to show, but the shield had not protected her.

"You were wrong, too," Ziva whispered to the headstone. "About Abby." Tears welled up and Ziva hated her own weakness. "She and I will not…" Ziva sighed and had another sip of the brandy. If she was going to have an afternoon of drunken self-indulgence, she should do it right. She took a long drink and the burning in her throat and belly felt good biting back the chill from the cold rain.

"Elle a brisé mon coeur, Jenny," she whispered in French. "She broke my heart," she said again, but in English.


Abby was in the autopsy bay. She had waited until Ducky finished with Mikel Mawher, not wanting to see him ever again. Now that Mawher was safely in a stainless steel drawer, she needed a place to be. She was pacing, going over her fight with Ziva and coming to the same conclusions every time. She royally screwed up by not trusting Ziva. Ziva royally screwed up by not accepting the apology. Now she just had to figure out how to fix it, because she was going to fix it.

"Abigail, do stop pacing," Ducky said.

"My lab is splattered in blood," she said as she spun and paced in the opposite direction. "I can't go pace there, so I need to pace here." She pivoted on one foot and went back the way she had just come.

"Why don't you go see Ziva?" he asked, thinking how happy that would make her.

Abby spun, her eyes shined with tears and her lip trembled. She spun and paced faster.

"Perhaps you could go over some lab findings?" Ducky suggested.

"I just started the PCR on the bacterial DNA this morning," Abby said. She sniffled. "There won't be enough to work with today."

"The culture in the incubator was waiting in case we needed another sample," Ducky said. "Dave sent out the DNA profile to the university last night before he left."

"Why didn't 'Dave' just run it himself?" Abby asked in a catty tone.

"He had more trust in your ability," Ducky explained.

"Oh." Abby wasn't sure how to work a snide remark into the conversation since Dave was beginning to seem like a decent guy. At the very least, he wasn't the evil stinky maniac she had thought he was. She went to the computer, found the profile, then ran the sample against several university DNA banks. When the match came up, she really wished Wilbur was in the lab. "It is Antarctic."

"I beg your pardon?" Ducky asked. He stood and came over to the computer, intrigued.

"My Kocuria rosea, is actually Kocuria polaris," Abby said. "Sure, they're 98 percent the same DNA, but this is definitely an Antarctic strain."

"Fascinating." Ducky read the computer screen with interest. "Did you know that Kocuria rosea used to be classified as Micrococcus roseus?" he asked. "It's a fascinating story. They found unique properties that ended with a completely unique classification being created."

"I know," Abby said. "I told Wilbur all about it." She had, and poor Wilbur's eyes had glossed over during the details. "Ducky, this could be huge. This strain is rare."

"What's rare?" Gibbs asked as he came into the room and handed Abby a Caf-Pow fresh from the local mini-market.

"The bacteria," Abby said distractedly. "I'm running a search for anyone who's come from the Antarctic in the last month." She took the Caf-Pow but didn't drink it. She stared at it and thought about the box of Caf-Pow syrup that Ziva had given her. Ziva, who was impossibly sweet, despite her tough spy exterior. Ziva, who pretended to be impervious to any pain, but had a soft heart. Ziva, whose heart Abby had trampled. "I'm a terrible person, Gibbs."

"Because of the bacteria?" Gibbs asked.

Abby shook her head.

He almost groaned when he suddenly understood. "Did you really think Ziva was interested in Anna Sadeh?"

Abby did groan. "No." She put her Caf-Pow on the table. "But you saw Anna Sadeh. Tony and McGee were ready to have babies with her."

"Ziva is not Tony or McGee," Ducky pointed out, suddenly understanding Abby's melancholy.

"No, she's not," Gibbs agreed. He took Abby by the arm, waiting until she looked at him. "She'd never do anything to hurt you. Not if she could help it."

"Well, you're wrong about that, Jethro. She broke up with me," Abby whispered as she looked at the floor. "And technically, that hurt, a lot."

"Damn it, Abby. I gave Ziva the talk," Gibbs said pointedly. "The talk, as in don't hurt my little girl or I will hurt you, talk." Gibbs sighed, truly hating talking about emotions. "And she listened, like a good, proper suitor of a Marine's daughter."

"You think you scared her away?" Abby lifted her head.

"No," he said as he bent down and looked directly into Abby's eyes. "I think I should have had that talk with you instead."

"Wha.. what?" Abby asked, clearly offended.

"We all seem to forget, that as tough as Ziva is, she's the youngest one here." Gibbs folded his muscular arms across his chest. "We love you, Abbs, but you're so happy-go-lucky we forget that you're strong. You've loved."

"Your point?" Abby asked. She was a little grouchy because she was realizing she had completed overlooked the fact that Ziva was several years younger and a whole lot less experienced when it came to being in love.

"You didn't trust her, Abby," Gibbs said angrily. "She is worthy of trust."

Ducky jumped into the conversation. "So not only have you suggested that she betrayed your trust, you've insulted her honor."

Gibbs sighed. He wasn't good with touchy feely discussions. He wasn't a talker at all. He resented that he was being forced to give advice. "You hurt her, Abby." His eyes narrowed. "You hurt her badly."

"You two are not helping." Abby sat at Ducky's desk and watched the screen hoping her latest query would find something and save her from the deserved dressing down.

Gibbs only knew one more way to make Abby understand. "Abbs, do you know what the most dangerous thing a person in Ziva's former line of work can ever face?"

"What?" Abby asked slowly.

"A partner they can't trust," Gibbs said. He waited a moment. "And the second most dangerous thing?" he asked her.

"What?" Abby asked, really not wanting to know.

"A partner who doesn't trust them." Gibbs met her eyes. "Fix this."

The computer beeped.

Abby looked to it for her salvation. "I got something." She scanned the screen and frowned. "The only recent flight out of the Antarctic was a U.S. Air Force flight two weeks ago."

"What were they carrying?" Ducky asked.

"People," Abby said. "And cargo."

Gibbs leaned against the desk. "The Antarctic is a frozen block of ice. Other than penguins, there's nothing there. They don't have exports. What kind of cargo do you take from there?"

"Give me a minute." Abby typed rapidly, jumping from screen to screen. "There," she said and then she became confused again when she read the information. "Huh?"

"Huh?" Gibbs asked, wanting clarification.

"Wine, specifically, German Ice wine." Abby hit a few more keys. "The German science team brought six cases with them. Someone likes their ice wine."

"Then why was it on a cargo plane coming to DC?" Gibbs asked.

Abby read the screen, then as only she could, she read between the lines and typed a few more commands to find what she needed. "Seems like they sent two cases to DC as an official gift." She hit a few more keys. "They were picked up by a diplomatic courier." She turned and her eyes widened. "From the Israeli embassy."

Gibbs rubbed his forehead.

"That can't be a coincidence," Ducky said.

"No, it can't," Gibbs said. He pulled his Blackberry out of his pocket and dialed. He spoke as soon as the line opened. "I need you back at NCIS, right now."

Ziva stared at the phone in her hand and laughed. "Gibbs, that is not going to happen," she said. She looked over at the empty thermos on the grass next to her.

"Look, Ziva, whatever else is going on, you have a job to do." Gibbs was worried. Ziva was not one to shirk her responsibilities.

Abby turned and stared in disbelief. Ziva never pushed off work.

"You do not understand," Ziva said into the phone. Her speech was slightly slurred. "I physically cannot report to duty." She cleared her throat. "I have been drinking. A lot. I probably should not even have a gun. Or a knife. Or any deadly weapon." She laughed, snorting. "Which includes my hands." She held out one hand and studied it, suddenly fascinated. "I can kill with my bare hands, did you know that?"

"I did," Gibbs said as he put his hand back to his forehead. "You're drunk." It wasn't a question. He didn't need a drunken, broken-hearted assassin roaming the city suddenly remembering her hands were deadly weapons.

Abby's eyes widened.

"Not drunk." Ziva made a clicking sound with her tongue. "Very drunk. Drunk as a skank," Ziva said with the utmost seriousness. Then she laughed and leaned her forehead against the headstone and sighed, suddenly overcome with sadness. She rested her hand on the cold granite over Jenny's name. "il est vrai, mon ami, oui?"

"Is what true?" Gibbs understood French and knew that she had said, 'it is true, my friend, yes?' He saw Ducky's curious look. "She's speaking French," Gibbs told Ducky. "And apparently, drunk as a skank." He rolled his eyes.

"Oh, dear," Ducky said. "She does tend to misplace her English under duress, doesn't she?" He rather enjoyed Ziva's missteps when trying to use slang. Under any other circumstances, using the word skank in place of skunk would have been quite humorous. The fact that Ziva was reverting to French meant her concentration must be nonexistent.

"Ziva, where are you?" Gibbs asked, thinking she may be in one of the many international bars in DC.

"Comment pourriez-vous me quitter?" Ziva asked. She traced her finger over the grooved lettering, finding the edges surprising sharp. "J'ai besoin de votre conseil." She sighed and then her voice cracked when she whispered, "elle a brisé mon Coeur, cher."

Gibbs translated in his mind but he didn't speak. She had said, 'how could you leave me?' and then 'I need your advice.' He could hear the emotion in Ziva's voice. She sounded impossibly young. Her last sentence brought that point home. Ziva had whispered, 'She broke my heart, cher.'

"Where are you?" Gibbs asked gently, though he suspected he might now know.

"Avec Jenny," Ziva said.

He took a deep breath and sighed. "Wait there," Gibbs ordered. "I'll come get you."

"Oui," Ziva replied. "Nous attendrons."

Gibbs hung up and stared at his phone. "She's with Jenny." He sighed again and walked out of the room without acknowledging the others. Ziva was with Jenny. She had also said 'we will wait,' but he didn't share that.

If Abby looked concerned before, now she looked terrified. She watched Gibbs leave and then turned to Ducky needing comfort.

"Start with an apology," Ducky suggested. "Then you can yell at her for running off instead of staying to talk things through."

Abby nodded.

Ducky let out a deep breath. "And I shall have a word with her about drinking in lieu of dealing with one's feelings."

Gibbs took the elevator to the parking structure, thinking about Jenny and Ziva as the floors passed by. He had spent time with Jenny as well. Just like Ziva, Gibbs always said 'with Jenny,' and never 'at Jenny's grave.' There had been a few nights when he sat with Jenny and drank more than he should have. "Damn it, David," he whispered. "When did you turn into such a romantic?"

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

It stopped raining as Gibbs exited the NCIS building. He left orders for DiNozzo to chase down the new lead. He didn't plan on being gone long.

He parked his car at the gate closest to where he knew Ziva was waiting, with Jenny. He pulled his overcoat tightly against his chest to keep the wind off his body and waved his badge at the guard at the back gate.

He made his way through the dark cemetery. He liked the quiet of cemeteries, but could never get past the feelings that arose. He didn't understand why he was alive while so many other good soldiers were not. They were lined up in their last formation, the headstones permanently standing at attention, like a macabre stone army forever waiting to deploy.

He rounded a tall hedge and expected to have Ziva meet him. She was impossible to surprise. Even when he'd seen her after a few drinks in the past, she had the whip fast reflexes that every old spy shared. Spies with slow reflexes never became old spies. Figuring that she was still at the graveside, he made his way to the back rows. What he saw sent a rush of hot adrenaline through his blood.

He had his weapon out in an instant and crouched low as he rushed toward Ziva. Her bloodied body was splayed out on her side, motionless in front of Jenny's headstone. He dropped to the ground beside her and touched two fingers to her icy throat. He could smell the blood covering her shirt and her body was soaked from the rain. For a few seconds he thought he was too late, but then he felt her pulse.

"What are you doing, Gibbs?" she asked grumpily.

He pulled her shoulder, rolling her over.

"Hey!" She sat up and clumsily slapped his hand away.

"Are you hit?" he asked, obviously confused. He ran a hand over her shirt.

Ziva swatted at his hand, but the move threw her off balance and she fell over onto one elbow.

"Are you hit?" he asked again, growing angry as he began to get the real picture.

"No," she said, clearly pissed off. "Stop pocking me."

"Poking," Gibbs corrected. He leaned closer and could see that all of the blood was from previous wounds she had reopened. He stood and grabbed her arm. "Up." He yanked her to her feet.

She staggered, unsteady on her feet. When she looked at him, her lip quivered and her eyes filled with emotion.

"No," he said sternly. "You don't get to make me think you've been murdered and then cry." He headed toward his car dragging her alongside him.

Ziva spun out of his grip and looked into the darkness behind them. She reached for the gun on her right hip. "Who was murdered?"

Gibbs grabbed her hand. "You," he said. "In about three seconds if you don't hurry up," he added in a hiss.

Ziva pulled them both to stop. "She does not trust me, Gibbs," she said. Her tone was defeated.

"She's Abby," Gibbs pointed out. "You've seen how she gets when someone else uses her lab," he reminded Ziva.

"Yes," Ziva said slowly, dipping her head in tilting nod. "She is exceptionally possessive," she said, slurring her words and waving a finger toward him to emphasize the point.

"Exactly," Gibbs said. He led her through the cemetery, steadying her when she began to limp.

"I would not have cheated," Ziva said. "Ever." She yanked her arm out of his grasp and stumbled in a swaying spin.

Gibbs shot his hand out and recaptured her, barely keeping her upright. "No, you'd just abandon her," he said.

"I cannot build a life without trust." Ziva stopped and stared down at her feet.

"She doesn't think you'd cheat," Gibbs said. "Hey," he said as he lifted her chin. She was cold to the touch. "You know why Abby hates anyone else in her lab?"

Ziva shook her head. The hair dark matted to the sides of her face made her look like a lost little girl.

"She's afraid we're all gonna like the new person better," Gibbs said. "Even though she knows it would never happen, that she's our family, some part of her is afraid of losing the people she loves."

Even drunk, Ziva could draw the parallels with Abby's reaction to Anna Sadeh. "And I walked away."

"Remember when you gave me your badge and gun?" he asked. It had been a bad time for them both, but ended well. Gibbs had refused to accept Ziva's resignation.

"Are you asking for them now?" Ziva asked. She sounded almost sober, but was swaying off to the left.

"No, you idiot," Gibbs said. "This is the same thing. The next time you hand Abby her heart back, you better be prepared to lose it." He pulled out his Blackberry and dialed. "Abby? You. Ziva's apartment. Now. Fix this."

Ziva stared wide-eyed.

He turned to her. "Fix this, David, or I will deport you." He wrapped an arm around her and dragged her to his car.


Abby arrived at Ziva's apartment first. She'd seen Ziva drink a few times after work. The beautiful Israeli woman always held her liquor well, knowing her limits and staying within them. Abby hurried around the apartment, putting on a pot of Ziva's favorite coffee, a dark roast from East Africa. Abby joked that Ziva liked it because the coffee was almost as exotic as the young spy. Ziva explained it was because Jenny had introduced her to it. The two agents shared it on many occasions in Eastern Europe.

A knock at the door broke Abby out of her thoughts. She checked to make sure it was Gibbs, seeing him peering back through the peephole. She wasn't sure what she expected to find when she opened the door, but it was certainly not the sight that met her. Gibbs cradled Ziva in his arms, carrying her. Ziva's eyes were closed. She might have looked like a cute little girl, the way she was snuggled against his jacket, except she was drenched to the bone with her clothes sticking to every inch. Her hair looked like she had been camping in the woods without a tent or any other shelter, during a monsoon.

"I know," Gibbs said quietly as he carried Ziva inside. "She looks like something the cat dragged in."

"Uh, no. She looks like something the cat coughed up," Abby said. She turned and watched him place Ziva onto the sofa. It was only then Abby could see that Ziva must have torn out some of her stitches.

Ziva inhaled and then sat up on the sofa and rubbed her face awkwardly with the back of hand one. She lifted her head and froze when she saw Abby. Seeing her lover had a sobering effect as adrenaline rushed through her system. Pain and hope flickered over her features. Pain won out. She stood unsteadily and started toward the hall.

"David," Gibbs said sharply.

Ziva stopped mid-stride and the slowly turned.

Gibbs met her eyes. "Never thought of you as a coward."

Fire flashed behind Ziva's brown eyes.

"That fatherly chat I had with you?" Gibbs asked. He nodded toward Abby. "Had the same one with her." He pinned Ziva in place with his eyes. "I don't do sensitive chats. Figure this out because I am not having that talk again with anyone else. Ever." He turned and went to the front door.

Abby followed him, pausing at the door. "Thanks, Gibbs," she whispered.

"Fix this or figure out how to work together," he said. "We've got an international incident waiting to explode. That could be literally." He went into the hall and quickly left.

Abby bolted the door closed and turned towards Ziva. She studied her lover. Ziva was standing with her head tilted to one side, soaking wet and looking much worse for the wear. The pain and the emotion in her eyes, so close to the surface, made her look years younger. "Me first," Abby said and she walked toward Ziva with her purpose set.

Ziva nodded and a bit of the pain in her eyes was replaced by hopefulness.

"I am possessive of the things I love. Like my lab, my lab equipment, my Gibbs, my Tony, my Ducky, my Timmy, and especially my Ziva." She crossed both arms over her chest and stood in front of Ziva.

The corner of Ziva's lip lifted as she remembered the many times Abby had lost her temper when someone touched anything in the lab.

"It's my lab," Abby said possessively. "And I love my team, they're my family."

Ziva nodded, she felt the same way about the team.

"But I'm in love with you," Abby said as she stepped into Ziva's personal space. "So imagine how wacky it made me when that Israeli supermodel zeroed in on you like a heat-seeking missile."

"I would never…" Ziva began.

"I know." Abby put her hands onto Ziva's shoulders and was surprised how cold the soaked fabric was. "It's not about you." She stared down into Ziva's eyes wishing she could undo the pain there, pain Abby knew she had caused. "It's about me, my insecurities, my fears. I never doubted you. I trust you completely. I just needed to blow off some steam."

Ziva took a deep breath and sighed, letting her head drop forward. "I should probably be sober for this talk."

"Then I'll tell you again when you are." Abby lifted Ziva's chin. Her hand trembled at the touch. "And I'll keep telling you as many times as you need to hear it."

Ziva allowed a tiny, lopsided smile.

"You need to trust me, too," Abby said. "Trust that no matter how ridiculous I get, no matter how many tantrums I have when women throw themselves at you, I always know in my heart you won't stray."

Ziva sighed in frustration. "Then why…"

"Because I can safely get angry at you," Abby said. "I know it's messed up." Abby tossed her hands into the air. "I can get mad at you and I know it's just me being all blustery. If I blew up at that Israeli supermodel, I would probably end up getting arrested."

Ziva laughed softly. "I would not be able to post bail."

"What?" Abby said, her voice full of false outrage.

Ziva's eyes sought out Abby's. "I would be in the cell next to you." She pointed with one finger, her hand unsteady. "But I would break us out."

Abby smiled brightly. She rested a hand on Ziva's shoulder. "You're freezing. Let's get you out of these clothes and into a hot shower."

Ziva nodded and slumped against her lover.

"Are we okay?" Abby asked tentatively.

"We will be." Ziva leaned up and placed a kiss on Abby's throat. "After that shower and then bed." She yawned.

"We got a break on the case," Abby said as she led her lover down the hall.

Ziva stopped and looked up at Abby.

"Some trace evidence off bomber guy's hand," Abby said. She tugged Ziva to get her moving toward the bathroom. "It links bomber guy to the Israeli embassy."

Ziva rubbed her eyes with both palms. She dropped her hands and sighed. "I have to go to work."

"Yeah, what we need is a drunk Spy Queen waving her gun around." Abby opened the bathroom door. "In," she ordered.

Ziva cleared her throat. "There is a metal box in the closet in my bedroom," she said. "Could you bring it to me?"

"Okay… shouldn't you shower first? Abby asked.

Ziva shook her head. She sat on the closed toilet and kicked off her shoes and dropped her waist pack and gun to the floor with a thump. She yanked off her wet sweatpants with some effort. The cuff of the left leg hung up on her backup gun. When Abby returned, she found Ziva staring down at the pile of weapons.

"Hey?" Abby whispered.

Ziva slowly lifted her head and noticed the box in Abby's hands. She reached out, took it, and placed it beside the sink and opened it. "Thank you, she said quietly.

"What is that?" Abby thought at first glance it was a first aid kit, but the items inside looked more like Dr. Frankenstein's surgical kit.

"Trauma and poisoning kit," Ziva said. She moved a smaller box inside out of the way and removed a syringe.

"Whoa!" Abby grabbed her lover's wrist. "What is that?"

"A compound that does not officially exist." Ziva eyed the back of her hand, about to inject the medication directly into the vein. "It will immediately counteract the alcohol."

"No. Hell no." Abby carefully took the syringe from her lover, despite the dirty look the move earned her. "An unofficial, nonexistent, and probably dangerous compound? I don't think so. There's no way you're taking some untested mystery drug."

"Abby, Gibbs needs me," Ziva said. The vehemence in her tone was dampened by the fact that she was shivering uncontrollably and tilting to one side like a ship taking on water.

"Hmmp." Abby reached into her own pocket and produced a cell phone. She hit the speed dial and waited. "Is there is anything to go on yet?" She listened, raising both eyebrows at her lover. "The Spy Queen has some nasty Mossad drug that will apparently sober her up…" She smiled as she pulled the phone away from her ear. Gibbs' voice was raised to his loudest, angriest yell. Finally, Abby put her ear back to the phone. "So you don't need her tonight?" She listened, clearly happy with what he was saying. "That's all I needed to hear."

Ziva looked to Abby expectantly.

Abby smiled triumphantly. "Gibbs says there's no way in hell you're taking that crap." She pointed at the syringe. "Says he knows all about it and… Well, let's just say, daddy Gibbs is not happy."

"The case…" Ziva began.

"Will be fine without you," Abby said. "Gibbs told me they're at a dead end tonight. The guy they need to talk to is halfway to Europe right now. Gibbs is sending someone from a base in Europe to interview the guy when he lands at Heathrow." She looked from Ziva to the shower. "Now, you're getting into a hot shower before I have to de-ice your ears."

Ziva sighed. "Are you always this bossy?"

"Yes, now get the rest of those clothes off." Abby pointed at the drenched sweatshirt. "And then we'll talk about you strolling through DC soaking wet, drunk, and better armed than most small countries… while trying to get over being blown up. "

Ziva undressed, aware of Abby's eyes on her. Her sweatshirt stuck to her skin, and in her less than sober state, she ended up trapped with her head inside the shirt, spinning in a circle trying to flap her arm free. She felt Abby's warm hand on her waist and then Abby guided the offending article of clothing over her head.

"Thank you," Ziva whispered.

Abby leaned down and gave her a gentle kiss. "You're welcome, darlin'. Let's just not make a habit of getting drunk in a downpour."

Ziva nodded and looked down at the floor as Abby helped her take off her wet undergarments.

"You were with Jenny?" Abby asked as she adjusted the shower temperature.

Ziva nodded and let out a forlorn sigh. "I miss her," her voice cracked.

"I know you do," Abby said. She pulled Ziva to her chest and held her. "We all do."

Ziva nodded, embarrassed as a few tears fell. She pulled away and climbed into the shower and let the hot water pour over her face. After a brief moment she felt Abby's naked body against her back.

"It's the Sciuto buddy system. No showering alone after drinking," Abby said reasonably. She held her hands at Ziva's waist.

Ziva smiled and leaned back against her lover, relaxing into the supportive embrace. In the morning, she'd have to report to the Israeli embassy, but she would cross that unpleasant bridge then. For now, she needed the love Abby offered.


Abby awoke to the sound of a ringing cell phone. That was irritating enough, but the fact that it was only four a.m. added another level of aggravation to the situation. She squeezed Ziva closer when the younger woman sat up to answer it. "Let it ring," Abby grumbled.

"I cannot," Ziva said sleepily. She tried to pull away.

"Throw it at the wall," Abby suggested without opening her eyes and not releasing her grip.

Ziva smiled despite the fact that she had a pounding headache. She rolled toward Abby and kissed her forehead as the phone continued to ring. "It could be important."

Abby nodded. "Fine, save the world. See if I care." She snuggled closer so her arm was tossed across Ziva's lap and her face was half-buried by the blankets. "Stupid world," she whispered grumpily.

"David," Ziva said into the receiver. She let out a sigh and wrapped her hand around Abby's wrist. "Good morning, Miss Sadeh."

Abby's eyes opened and she looked up in the near darkness of the room. Even with only the dim light of the clock radio, she could see that Ziva's expression was not pleased.

Ziva hit the speaker button and put the phone closer to Abby. "Yes, I am familiar with diplomatic attire." Ziva reached over and turned on a lamp.

Anna Sadeh's voice was husky even over the tinny sounding speaker. "I know this is short notice, and I wanted to extend an offer." She sounded politely generous, but there was more than a hint of interest in her tone. "We have several designers who routinely offer clothing to the embassy. I am certain we have many lovely dresses that would fit you. You're about a size five, yes?"

"I assure you, I will arrive dressed appropriately." Ziva listened politely, but she looked like her headache was getting worse.

"Of that I have no doubt." Anna laughed richly. "I just thought you might enjoy wearing a nice Vera Wang gown."

"No. That will not be necessary." Ziva gave Abby an apologetic look.

Abby sat up beside her lover and squeezed her hand, making it clear she wasn't getting jealous.

"It would be my pleasure," Anna said. "Consider it a gift for the help you provided at the bombing site."

"I was merely doing my job." Ziva's voice was perfectly polite, but Abby could see the crinkling at the edges of Ziva's eyes that signaled her growing frustration. "Miss Sadeh?" Ziva cut off the conversation, clearly losing her temper. "Why are we having this discussion at four a.m.?"

"I'm sorry. I thought Agent Gibbs informed you that we meet at five a.m. to prepare for breakfast events." Anna sounded genuinely confused.

"No, he did not," Ziva said. "What time is the first event today?" She lifted Abby's hand and kissed it.

"We have a brunch at eleven a.m.," Anna said.

"Then I will meet with your security team at nine a.m.," Ziva said firmly.

"Alright," Anna said. There was a hesitation. "I had hoped to spend some time getting to know you."

Abby crossed her arms over her chest.

"I do appreciate the offer," Ziva said. "May I be blunt?"

"Please do," Anna said. "I love a woman who takes charge."

"I am getting signals that you would like to explore a personal relationship." Ziva took a breath.

"I'm glad my signals are getting through," Anna said with a laugh.

"I am in a committed partnership," Ziva said.

"Ah, well, this is awkward." Anna laughed, though she didn't sound the slightest bit uncomfortable. "Your father didn't mention that fact."

"My father?" Ziva's voice cracked.

"I spoke to him after you and I talked the other night," Anna admitted. "He and my father worked together for years. My father has been trying to get you and I to meet. He's seen your photo many times and they both thought we would be a good match."

Ziva knew her father was aware she had dated men and women, but she didn't like the idea of him playing matchmaker. Generally, he planned her romantic interactions as strategic political moves. "I see," Ziva said slowly. If Ziva's father was setting her up with a woman, Anna's father must have serious political clout. "As flattering as that is, I am completely happy with my lover." She smiled warmly at Abby.

"I apologize if I've made you uncomfortable," Anna said, and she sounded sincere. "Do you mind if I ask a question about one of your coworkers? I noticed a bit of a jealous reaction when I chose to speak to you yesterday. Perhaps your coworker would be interested…"

"I am certain Agent DiNozzo would love to take you out," Ziva said.

Abby snickered, covering her mouth to keep the sound from reaching the phone.

"Oh, not him." Anna's laugh made it clear that DiNozzo didn't interested her in the slightest. "I was thinking of that exceptionally beautiful and exotic laboratory technician, Miss Sciuto," Anna said. "I thought I saw some sparks while I was talking to you."

"That you did," Ziva said with a smile.

Abby's jaw dropped.

"Excellent," Anna said.

Ziva chuckled, but not unkindly. "I can safely say Abby is not interested, but if you would like to ask her yourself, I will hand her the phone."

There was a silent pause and then Anna laughed richly. "I take it she is in bed next to you?"

"Yes," Ziva said. She leaned over and pressed a silent kiss to Abby's temple.

"Give her my best," Anna said. "I will see you at nine a.m., until then." She laughed again, obviously at her own expense. "You are a lucky woman, Officer David."

"I know," Ziva said.

The line went dead.

"This is going to kill Tony," Ziva said. She tossed her phone onto the nightstand.

Abby was laughing so hard she had to lean forward to avoid coughing. "Please let me be the one to tell him!"

"And will we tell him that you were naked in bed next to me when the call came?" Ziva rolled over and guided Abby to a reclining position.

"Hell no," Abby said with a laugh. "You know, Miss Sadeh probably wanted to make you wear some skimpy dress that barely covers your breasts and doesn't even reach your thighs."

Ziva kissed Abby. She took her time, allowing them to reconnect after the previous day's difficulties. She eased back and mirth filled her dark eyes. "What makes you think that description does not match the dress I have picked out?"

"Well, that's easy." Abby reached up and ran her fingers along Ziva's cheek. "Nowhere to put your gun."

Ziva let out a bark of laughter. "I love you," she said as she continued laughing.

Abby went completely still, contemplating her lover.

Ziva looked down and her expression gentled. She shifted her weight so she was resting with her elbows on each side of Abby's shoulders. She used her hands to cradle Abby's face. "I do," she said, her voice filled with emotion. "I love you, Abby."

"I love you, too." Abby smiled and her eyes locked with Ziva's. "Very much." She threaded her fingers through Ziva's hair and guided her down for a gentle kiss that quickly escalated into a more demanding, heated exchange.

They broke the kiss for a few breaths, each woman feeling the electricity between them.

"Now that you've outed us to your homeland embassy, shouldn't you be making love to your girlfriend?" Abby asked with a cheeky grin.

Ziva nodded. She planned to do just that. Suddenly her headache was no longer important.

"Well, snap to it, woman. Hurry up," Abby said playfully.

Ziva leaned down and waited until her lips brushed above Abby's. "I will not hurry," she said. "I am going to take my time." She let her tongue snake out and wet Abby's lips. "When we are finished, I do not want you thinking about anything for the rest of the day except the feel of me loving you."

Abby groaned and then lifted her head so she could reach Ziva's lips for a proper kiss. She settled back onto the bed as Ziva began kissing her neck and throat.

"No matter where I am today, my heart is here, with you." Ziva's hand moved across Abby's belly, her fingers tracing a delicate pattern. "And no matter what I am doing…" She moved her kisses closer to Abby's ear. "What I want to be doing is making love to you," she said as her fingers moved lower to find Abby's body willing and eager to be touched.

Abby sighed. "Kiss me," she asked.

Ziva's lips curled up at the edges and she did as her lover asked, pouring every bit of devotion into the contact.

Part 17

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