DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Down the Path
By Jaina


They're curled up on the couch. Ziva feels the large round buttons on the couch cushions digging into her back as Abby cuddles up against her. Ziva runs her hand, up and down Abby's side in a loose distracted motion. She presses a kiss against the bare skin of Abby's shoulder and then pauses.

They've been talking for hours about everything that they can think of. It's been an interesting experience for Ziva. So much of her life, as she thinks of it, is classified that it's almost a challenge to think of the things that she can tell Abby. But then it becomes fun. When she sees the way that Abby's face lights up when she confesses that she has a weakness for cotton candy, or something equally silly it becomes a game to see how many times she can win a smile from Abby.

Slowly the silly gives way to the serious. And here they are. Ziva presses her lips to the silky skin of Abby's shoulder once again, and then purses them in thought. She lowers her forehead to Abby's shoulder and catches sight of one of her angel tattoos. Her breath catches in her throat and she opens her mouth only to catch herself before she can speak.

The words Ari was my brother echo in her mind like a death knell. Her hand stills and tightens on Abby's waist. Abby glances over her shoulder, concern filling her green eyes.

"Are you okay," she asks, laying her hand over Ziva's.

So Ziva says the only thing that she can think of.

"Tell me how you met Gibbs."

It's a shot in the dark, but she's seen the way that Abby acts around Gibbs. The majority of their relationship seems superficial. He brings her Caf-Pow. She gives him the evidence he needs to put away the bad guys. She flirts. He responds. She does outrageous things that no one else could get away with. And that's where things get tricky. Because he not only lets her, but encourages her. And he protects her. He treats her like family, and her faith in him is more solid than anything that Ziva has ever seen.

So the profiler in her has to wonder. How did they meet? What happened to make Abby the person that she is now? And how bad was it? Is it enough to let her understand about Ari?

Abby leans back and Ziva holds her closer. She likes feeling Abby's weight against her.

"I remember it was dark..."

It was so dark that she could almost feel its weight pressing down on her shoulders. It's so dark that she can't breathe. Her legs are tucked up tight against her chest, and she squeezes them even tighter against her, making herself as small as she can.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. She can't believe that she was so stupid.

Her stomach lurches and she feels bile surge up her throat. She's choking in the dark, panic is engulfing her. Her arms flail out for something anything, and there is nothing.

Suddenly there is light. It's so bright, so without her warning that black spots dance in front of her eyes and she can't see. Her hands scrabble for the floor beneath her and then she is throwing up. Noise and light bombard her. So many sensations that none of it makes sense. She's too busy throwing up, and panting to breathe.

Strong arms catch her shoulders and pull her to her feet. She sags against the person's chest and falls tighter into the embracing arms that are wrapped around her. She can feel his deep rumble-y voice vibrating through his chest. He is speaking she knows, but the sounds and words are still not making sense to her. Somehow though, maybe the way he's holding her, or the reassuring sounds he's making, she knows that she's safe. Safe with him. So when he tries to pass her off to someone else, she clings tighter.

Her fingers dig into his wrist hard enough that she knows he will be wearing her fingerprints tomorrow. He stops and looks at her properly for the first time. She stares back and notices for the first time, the closely cropped haircut. His nose is long and skinny. Cool, green eyes stare at her with a demanding and slightly superior expression. But she still remembers how safe she felt tucked against his chest, feeling him speak.

"What's your name?"

She's still disoriented and not quite thinking. It's an odd enough state for her that she reacts without thinking. Her fingers curl into three signs, one repeated.


She catches a brief look of surprise on his face, and then he steps back a little bit from her. She recognizes the gesture, not as pulling away from her, but squaring himself so that he can sign to her more easily.

It's been years since she did much signing. Probably since she graduated high school, but she understands enough of what he asks and she replies in kind, spelling words that she can't remember.

He takes her in for questioning, but stays with her the whole time. She thinks it's because they think that she can only sign, so she carefully doesn't give any indication that she can speak. And it's not that hard to do, because she
really does not feel like talking right now.

His questions are straight forward. Who were you with? Why were you at the bar? Did you know anyone else there? When did things start to go wrong? Did you see any of the people who did this?

She answers him as best as she can. And then she starts to think. She remembers the way that Mark had insisted that they go to that club, that night, not tomorrow or the day after. She remembers how he was just a little bit too solicitous the night before, getting her drinks before she even asked and being so nice to her. She wonders what he slipped into her drinks. So many opportunities.

She's smart and she knows that, but somehow she failed to consider all of the other people who might know that and want to use her smarts for their own purpose. She should have known better than to trust Mark when he came cosying back up to her. He wasn't the type who could accept a woman that was smarter than him.

She looks up from her thoughts and she sees him leaving. His back is to her as he pulls open the door. Her hands sketch through the air, but she knows better than most the futility of signing to someone's back.

"Wait!" The word slips out of her mouth, before she can think. But he doesn't seem surprised when he turns around.

He doesn't speak, but waits patiently and with a knowing look.

So she explains the projects that she's been working on with her colleague Mark and the words are tumbling out of her mouth so fast that she can barely keep them straight. A triumphant look begins to form on his face as she talks. When she's done, she sags against the back of her chair, exhaustion finally seeping through numbness to catch up with her.

His fist pounds the table once, startling her, and his eyes blaze with certainty. He leans in close to her and whispers into her ear, "I will catch the bastard."

Her eyes fall shut and she can almost feel his arms around her and his voice vibrating in his chest again. She believes him.

It's not until later that he offers her a job. She accepts his offer instantly and flashes him a smile. He smiles back and she thinks,
this is going to be fun.

Abby is looking at Ziva as she finishes telling the story. Her eyes shine with remembered amusement.

"How did you know you could trust him?"

Abby raises an eyebrow at her. "I just felt safe with him."

Ziva nods slowly. "Gibbs is good at gaining people's trust," she admits almost to herself. Ziva holds Abby to her more tightly, grateful that there is no way that she can quickly put distance between she and Abby.

She opens her mouth. "We met for the first time when I was thirteen."

The End

Return to NCIS Fiction

Return to Main Page