DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Cliché Challenge 2007.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

How It Shouldn't Have Gone
By Jaina


Ziva could feel her cell phone vibrating in the pocket of her jacket. She ignored it and clenched her hands around the grip of her pistol. They were closing in on a man wanted for murder - a very dangerous man. They'd been chasing him all week; this was the moment they'd been waiting for.

She felt the vibration in her jacket stop. She let out an inaudible breath of relief and took several steps forward. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Tony closing in from her left. Gibbs and McGee were covering the front entrance, she knew. It was only a matter of time.

Tony gestured and she started forward, using the barrel of her gun to brush aside a piece of plastic sheeting hanging from the ceiling. Ziva cleared it and then gestured Tony forward. She almost jumped out of her skin as her cell phone started vibrating again. Tony saw the look of dismay on her face and shot her a look of his own. It didn't take years of being his partner to read the admonishment to get back to business in his expression. She glared back and then got back to business.

Ziva took a deep breath and then stepped around the next corner. Instantly she saw the suspect, a tall white male with a startling shock of white blonde hair.

"Freeze," she yelled, holding her gun on him steadily. "Put your hands above your head and turn-"

She didn't have a chance to complete her sentence. Shots rang out from everywhere seemingly at once. Ziva couldn't tell which direction they were coming from and she didn't waste time trying to figure it out. Her shot clipped the suspect's shoulder as she dove behind the nearest cover, which unfortunately turned out to be a metal waste disposal drum and all too small.

Shots riddled the space around her, shouts, curses and sounds of pain filling the air. Ziva focused on finding the people who were shooting at her and eliminating them. Finally, several agonizingly long minutes later, the warehouse was quiet.

Ziva waited. She could hear no sound of movement, but that didn't mean no one was waiting out there. There was also no sign of Tony. She took her eyes away from the direction that shots had been coming from and scanned the ground. Still no sign of Tony. She took a chance and stood up.

She didn't realize she had been holding her breath until a second had passed and no shots were fired. Carefully and quickly she made her way back to the last place where she'd seen Tony.

"Ziva," his voice was a sharp hiss. Relief flooded through her.

"Did you see Manning," she asked quietly. "I shot him before all hells broke loose."

Tony didn't bother to correct her grammar. "I haven't seen him." He glanced around. "Boss and McGee will be here any minute. Let's go check it out."

Ziva nodded. Together they followed the path that they'd originally taken. Twice they stopped to call for an ambulance, but a quick check revealed that neither of the men would be taken into custody.

They found Manning next. His gun lay on the ground several feet away from him. His free hand was clutching his opposite shoulder. When he saw them, he scrambled for his gun. Ziva ran forward.

Manning scooped the gun off of the floor far more quickly than she would have thought possible with his injury. Two shots were fired. Ziva hit the floor.

"Ziva? Ziva?" Tony's voice was more panicked than she'd ever heard it before. "You'd better not be dead, damnit!"

She groaned. Or at least tried to. No sound came out. She felt herself gasping for breath, and found there was no air in her lungs. She looked down at her chest, feeling no pain. She still struggled to breathe. An instant later she took her first rattling gasp of breath and then sucked down another greedy lungful of air.

"Tony," she grabbed his arm. He pulled her to a sitting position where she tenderly felt her chest. She cursed when she saw the giant hole in her jacket. She shifted slightly and winced as several small parts fell out of her jacket, showing the broken remains of her phone. Beneath it was the solid shield of her bulletproof vest.

"I guess I will not be returning that call now, yes," Ziva said dryly.

Tony glared, but behind that she could see the concern on his face. If he had been McGee she would have patted his face and said something reassuring, but he was not and they did not have that kind of relationship. She wouldn't insult him by being reassuring.

Footsteps came thudding towards them rapidly and both held up their weapons quickly before they realized that it was only Gibbs and McGee.

"Boss," Tony said, "We got our guy." He gestured towards the corner.

Ziva looked over at Manning for the first time since she'd been shot. He was groaning and had a second gunshot wound, but neither were fatal. He would live to face trial.

Gibbs grimaced as he looked between Ziva and Manning. He looked at Tony. "Get this filth out of here, DiNozzo. The ambulances are waiting out front. Ride with him." He waited until Tony was half-dragging the wounded Manning out the door before he looked back at Ziva. "McGee take Ziva back to the office. She can start on the report."

"Gibbs!" Ziva protested. Some people might see being excused from the crime scene after being shot as a favor; Ziva saw it as punishment, especially with the looming threat of paperwork.

Gibbs didn't relent. Instead he said calmly, "Go."

She let out a hiss of frustration and didn't wait for McGee to head back to where they'd left the car.

She and McGee fought when they reached the car. She was capable of driving; he refused to let her. For once, McGee won. The trip back to NCIS took longer than it would have had she been driving, and she had time to sink back into the seat and relax. Her eyes drifted shut. Every time they did she saw Manning's gun swinging around to point at her. Her eyes jerked back open.

She was thankful when they reached the base and she could get out of the car. Her thankfulness however, was masked by her short temper. Ziva wished, once again, that Gibbs had let her remain at the warehouse, where at least she could have stayed busy.

She strutted towards her desk and stripped off her jacket. She threw it down onto her desk in disgust.


She turned sharply in surprise. It wasn't like Jenny to call across the bullpen to her. It was undignified and such behavior was beneath the Director of NCIS.

She walked towards the stairs and ascended them slowly. Jenny was almost running down them to meet her.

"Ziva," Jenny gasped, in an attempt to get her breath, and reached out to catch Ziva's arm. She squeezed it tightly and smiled at Ziva.

"Abby's at the hospital."

Ziva felt as if she'd had the air knocked out of her again.

"I… I have to go." She gestured wildly. "I need a ride to the hospital. I need-"

"McGee!" Jenny called to the bewildered agent standing in the midst of the bullpen, trying not to watch the scene but unable to avoid it.

"Jenny, I have to leave now. But Gibbs - I'm supposed to be filling reports." Her voice was panicked but she didn't care. She could hardly breathe.

She didn't realize she was babbling in Hebrew until McGee looked at her with a mixture of surprise and a distinct lack of comprehension.

"Shh!" Jenny said forcefully, unable to restrain a smile. "McGee will take you to the hospital and your partner can do the paperwork when he gets back. Now go." She gave Ziva a gentle push towards McGee and so Ziva went.

This time when McGee demanded to drive, she gave him two choices. Let her drive or suffer the most painful twenty seconds of his life before she drove. The drive to the hospital was much faster than the one from the warehouse to NCIS had been.

She left the car in the middle of the parking lot, still running, with McGee to park it. She was running by the time she hit the lobby and gasping for breath before she stopped in front of the receptionist.

"Abby Sciuto," she demanded between panting breaths.

The woman took far too long to look up the information and Ziva was barely restraining herself from threatening the woman with a very painful death if she did not hurry up.

Finally she gave Ziva the room number and pointed vaguely towards the elevators. Ziva gritted her teeth and forced herself to refrain from slapping the woman. Instead she focused on getting to Abby.

The elevator ride seemed to take forever and she got lost twice in the maze of the hospital corridors before she found Abby's room. She threw open the door and froze.

Abby lay in the bed, sweat sheening her face and arms, in a hospital gown that seemed so incongruous with Abby's usual style. Her face was strained with pain, and even from the door Ziva could hear her practiced breathing.

"Abigail," she whispered, dazed as she made her way over to Abby. She wrapped her hand around Abby's and bit back a wince when Abby's fingers clenched around her own.

"Where. the hell. have. you. been?" Abby bit out the words between breaths. "I called you twice," she hissed.

Ziva risked a glance at her face, and tried to determine just how angry Abby was. She was still too disoriented so she told the truth before she thought.

"I was in the middle of apprehending a suspect and then I got shot. My cell phone was destroyed."

Ziva hadn't thought it was possible but Abby's fingers clenched even more tightly around her own.

"You what?" She screeched.

The doctor, a woman clad in salmon scrubs, tugged at Ziva's arms. "You shouldn't be here, Ma'am. You're upsetting my patient. Ms. Sciuto needs to focus on delivering this baby."

"I'm fine," Ziva reassured Abby, as she ignored the doctor. "It hit my vest."

"I don't care," Abby snapped. "You got shot."

Tears leaked out of her eyes. Ziva could withstand many forms of torture for weeks on end; she couldn't withstand even a minute of Abby's tears. Ignoring the doctor, she dropped to her knees beside Abby's bed.

She wrapped both of her hands around Abby's again, and pressed a kiss to her fingers. "Baby, please do not cry. Please," she whispered, not above begging. "I'm sorry. I am fine." She leaned up and pressed a desperate kiss to Abby's lips. With one hand, she stroked Abby's damp hair back from her face.

"I'm sorry I frightened you." She tried a smile. "You frightened me." Abby looked slightly calmer.

"Don't let it happen again," she mumbled, looking down at their joined hands.

Ziva nodded. "I won't."

Abby smiled. "I'm having our daughter."

Ziva's breath hitched at those words. "I know." She kissed her forehead. "You're amazing, Abby Sciuto."

Abby grinned. "I am, aren't I?"

"You are," Ziva glanced behind her and saw the doctor nodding at her in approval now. "And you're doing very well."

The door burst open a second time and McGee stumbled in.

"You're in labor."

Abby rolled her eyes and then grimaced as another contraction hit her. McGee saw it.

"I think I-" He fainted.

There was no way Ziva could get there in time to catch him and he hit the floor with an undignified thump. Abby grimaced as several nurses went to pick him up. It seemed as if they were familiar enough with the routine.

When Ziva looked back to Abby, she groaned and then asked, "You're not going to do that to me, are you? Because I might just have to kill you."

"Never," Ziva reassured her. She leaned closer until she could whisper in Abby's ear. "I have seen many more violent forms of torture and not even thrown up."

It wrung a laugh from Abby, and then she groaned again. "Don't do-"

"Okay, Ms. Sciuto," the Doctor interrupted them. "It's time for you to push now."

For Ziva the next few moments passed in a blur. Abby, she was sure, felt every instant of it acutely.

And then a nurse was putting their little girl in her arms.

It was the most beautiful, overwhelming thing that she'd ever seen and despite her words to Abby, Ziva felt her knees go a bit week. She sank into a seat on Abby's bed, still cradling the newborn in her arms.

Ziva stroked blood and fluid off the tiny forehead and examined all of the little fingers and toes carefully counting them all. She looked back up at Abby, unable to believe the joy in her heart.

"She's beautiful."

Abby held out her arms, sweat still trickling down her face. Carefully Ziva placed the child - their child - in her arms.

The look of wonder on Abby's face matched her own.

The doctor looked over their shoulders for a moment. "The nurse will be in, in just a moment to clean her up." She smiled at them both. "What will you name her, ladies?"

Ziva smiled. "Samantha Kate David-Sciuto." Kate had been her hesitant suggestion and Abby had instantly loved the tribute to her departed friend.

The doctor nodded and left them in peace.

Abby looked exhausted but radiant. Still holding their daughter she said softly, "C'mere."

Ziva complied by scooting closer. She couldn't keep her hands off of their baby girl, her hand slipping behind Abby's to cradle her head. Abby titled her own head up and Ziva leaned down to kiss her slowly. Abby pulled away slowly to lean her head back limply on her pillow.

Ziva didn't stop the tear that trickled down her cheek.

"I love you," Abby whispered into the silence.

"Mmm," Ziva whispered, "I love you too."

And for a few moments they sat in silence until the rest of the team arrived to congratulate them.

The End

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