DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: 6.02 Agent Afloat.

The Grand Derby Adventure
By Jaina


"Save the Boobies!"

Ziva paused, blinked, and looked up to face Abby. Feeling puzzled when speaking to Abby wasn't unusual, but today she felt more puzzled than she had in quite a while.

"I'm sorry. What did you say?" Ziva wasn't really sure her ears could be trusted. She probably needed to go speak to Ducky about that. Hearing loss would be a considerable liability in the field.

Abby grinned proudly and delightedly thrust a piece of paper out at Ziva. "Sister Rosita was supposed to go with me tonight, but she had to cancel."

"Sister Rosita?" Now Ziva was even more confused. "Ah! The bowling nun, yes?" Abby and Tony's conversation the other night as they'd caught up had almost gone by too quickly for her to pay attention. She had spent most of the time watching them, and their body language. Listening to the tone of their voice rather than what they were saying. It was comforting after being gone for so long.

"Right," Abby said impatiently. "Ziva you're not listening!"

Ziva tried to restrain a laugh and managed to turn it into a cough. "You're right, Abby. I'm sorry. What were you saying?"

"Roller Derby! Tonight! Save the boobies! Raise money to fight breast cancer! And you have to go with me because Sister Rosita can't come!" She was practically bouncing up and down by the time she was finished speaking.

"Yes." Ziva said immediately. She didn't think about how jet-lagged she still was, or the way her back still throbbed from getting thrown into a table when the bomb had exploded in Morroco the previous week. She simply agreed. After all it was Abby. She may have underestimated her when she first arrived at NCIS, but now Ziva knew that sooner or later that she would agree to go with her. This way it might as well be sooner.

"Great! I'll be by to pick you up at 8!"

Ziva was still chuckling in bemusement as Abby walked backwards towards the elevator grinning. Then a thought hit her.

"Wait!" She called out to the retreating forensic scientist. "Abby, what is roller derby?"

Abby's only answer was a grin that most people who knew her could only call diabolical. "You'll see."

A women fell, going down hard. She flipped over on her back, her skate clad foot flying wildly through the air. Ziva saw the imminent collison and shoved Abby back at the last moment. The heavy skate slammed into Ziva's cheek bone. She hit the floor hard.

"Oh my god! Ziva!" Abby waved her hands frantically as the skater patted Ziva's leg in apology and scrambled back to her feet, skating off in a blur of motion. "You're bleeding. Oh my god."

"Abby. Abby!" Ziva repeated her name more sharply and then winced as the motion made her face hurt even more. "I'm all right."

"How can you tell? You can't even see it! Oh my god!"

Ziva clapped a hand, none too gently over her mouth. She needed to think and she needed Abby to be quiet for a moment to do that. Carefully, she rolled her jaw around. It hurt. The entire side of her face felt numb, tight and on fire all at the same time, but nothing felt broken.

A hand slapped her wrist, and Ziva glanced back up at Abby sharply. Abby was glaring at her angrily. Her hands flew in a variety of signs that Ziva didn't have to understand to realize that Abby was upset with her.

She took her hand from Abby's mouth.

"You need to go to the emergency room," Abby said immediately.

"No," Ziva countered immediately. She wasn't sitting there all night, for something that was very likely nothing more than a bruise and laceration.

Abby's hands settled on her hips and she stared. Ziva remembered, with none of the bemusement that she'd felt earlier in the day, the way that she'd so easily caved in front of Abby's determination. This time, however, she was equally determined.

If she didn't convince Abby otherwise soon, however, some other well meaning bystander would likely call her an ambulance anyway. Sometimes a strategic retreat was neccesary.

Ziva folded her arms over her chest and stared back. "Call Ducky."

Abby had the grace not to grin triumphantly as she pulled out her cell phone.

"You're fine, my dear." Ducky pronounced as he finished applying the second butterfly bandage.

Ziva's gaze shot to Abby standing next to the cold morgue table where she was sitting.

"I told you there was nothing wrong."

"You were bleeding. That is not right, Ziva," Abby countered.

Ziva rolled her eyes as she hopped off of the table.

"Can I go home now, Ducky?"

"Of course. If you have any more problems, just call me." He smiled wryly. "I'm sure none of my other patients will be bothering me tonight."

Used to his slightly unusual humor, Ziva just smiled and patted his shoulder.

"Thank you," she said genuinely. Even if it had been nothing, she was still grateful to him for coming to check on her when Abby had called him.

He nodded and went back to cleaning up the area around the table in prepartion for the next day's autopsies. Ziva smiled as she heard him murmuring to himself as he worked.

She glanced over at Abby as they headed toward the elevator and was surprised to see her looking even paler than usual. Her eyes were downcast and she was no longer smiling, or even glaring fiercely. The determination and stubborness were gone from her face, replaced by sadness.

"Abby?" Ziva queried, worried at once. She laid her hand gently on Abby's wrist and made her stop and turn to face her. "What's wrong?"

Abby shook her head mutely, staring down at her boots.

"Abby." Ziva's tone was more persuasive and cajoling this time. She reached out and tilted Abby's chin gently upwards until Ziva could meet her eyes. "You know I am very skilled at gaining information that I want to know and Gibbs has taught me much more beyond what I already knew. Do you really think you can get away with not telling me this?"

Abby's glare had returned, at least. Ziva thought it was a sign of some progress.

"Abby," Ziva shifted closer to her, so close that she stood with one leg in between Abby's and whispered in her ear. "You do not want me to take measures."

Angrily Abby pushed her back.

"I was worried, Ziva. Worried the whole time you were gone, because you weren't talking to me you. You didn't call. You didn't write. You didn't even email," Abby whailed. "You were off doing who knows what with Mossad. You could have been dead for all I know. You were in an explosion, for Pete's sake." Abby seemed to sag as she ran out of words.

It was a lot to take in at one moment.

"I'm sorry, Abby. I did not mean to-" Ziva hesitated, trying to search for the right word. She tried another tactic. "I'm used to having to asses my own injuries and respond as the mission dictates. I'm-" She hesitated again. "Thank you for caring."

With a strangled sound, Abby dove at her, folding her into a tight hug. Ziva breathed in the faint smell of Abby's perfume, so familiar that faint edge of gun powder, and held her back tightly.

Abby was smiling again as she let go.

"So, Ziva, how'd you like roller derby?"

The End

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