DISCLAIMER: I do not own NCIS. If I did, there would be *so* much more action! (and not just the cars and guns kind either)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Maekala



Ziva stood against the side of the building, her eyes unfocused and staring at the street. It hadn't really bothered her so much that Gibbs had called her Kate. The other woman had been at NCIS longer and had probably, therefore, made a bigger impression on the man. No, it had been Abby's reaction that had bothered her so much.

"What do you think, Kate?" asked Gibbs as he exited the elevator to Abby's lab with herself and Tony in tow.

She and Tony had stared at him blankly for a moment and, past his broad shoulders, she watched Abby turn, her face lighting up like it did when she was able to talk about her former lover without tears. Abby started to form the dead woman's name, but stopped when she saw Tony and Ziva's stricken faces.

"Uh, Gibbs?" spoke Tony, breaking the tense silence of the room.

Gibbs seemed to shake himself and his own face fell as he realized what he had done. He turned to Ziva, an apology on his lips.

Ziva absently waved him off, her focus still on the woman she loved. Abby had quickly turned back to her computer, giving Gibbs the perception of fewer witnesses to his mistake. Gibbs watched Ziva carefully for a moment, but the Israeli moved past him into the lab, forcing Gibbs to deal with the matter at hand.

She let the matter slip from her mind, her training the only thing that was getting her through the hurt. Once they were done, she quickly left the room before Gibbs or Abby or Tony could question her and disappeared outside.

The whole thing kept playing over in her mind again and again. There had been such joy on Abby's face when Gibbs had called her Kate. She didn't think she had ever seen that look on the younger woman's face. At least not in response to anything she had ever done.

Ziva jumped when Abby's pale hand touched her shoulder. She had to be more careful. Focusing so intently could get you killed. And God knew, she had killed enough people to incite a few others to want to kill her.

"What's wrong?" asked Abby, her face concerned.

Ziva shook her head. "Nothing," she lied, drawing herself up and tightening her face to hide the hurt she knew would shine through.

"Baby, please. I know something's bothering you. Is it what Gibbs said?"

"I'm fine." Ziva winced at the lie. She hated lying to Abby, but she could never tell her how much her reaction had hurt…more so than Gibbs' words. She started to move past Abby, but the hand on her shoulder tightened, stopping her faster than anything else could have.

Abby's face had hardened and Ziva knew that she wouldn't be able to continue playing the incident off. Ziva sighed and, taking the hand holding her shoulder in her own, led Abby across the street to a small outdoor café. Once she had waved the waiter off, she cradled both pale hands in her own, darker hands.

Abby ducked her head to try to meet Ziva's averted eyes. "What is it?"

Ziva took in a deep breath and blew it out as she raised her gaze to meet Abby's. She let all of the emotion she was feeling show in her eyes. She had to be completely honest with Abby. They had to deal with this now or it would continue to haunt their relationship for the rest of its duration.

"I'm not upset because Gibbs called me…because Gibbs used the wrong name." Abby raised an eyebrow at Ziva's avoidance of Kate's name, but let her lover continue. "I just—" Ziva paused as she tried to think how to voice her concerns. She was not the best at expressing her emotions in her native Hebrew; English was even worse. Sensing her distress, Abby squeezed Ziva's hands, her face patient. "You seemed happy when he said it." She knew that it still didn't cover what she was feeling, but it was the best she could come up with.

Abby looked confused for a moment, thinking on Ziva's words and her own reactions. Her face suddenly lit up as she seemed to understand something of what Ziva was saying. "Oh, baby. I wasn't happy that he called you Kate." Ziva barely covered a wince at the name. So much pain lay in that name. Abby pulled one hand from Ziva's grasp to brush it across the other woman's face. "I was happy because I thought he was finally telling stories again. I thought that maybe we were getting the old Gibbs back."

"I don't understand."

"I didn't realize he was calling you Kate. I thought he was talking about Kate. That's why I was happy."

Ziva nodded, understanding the difference. Her face, however, still showed her unhappiness. "I know that you love her, and I don't have a problem with that—I don't. But, sometimes, it feels like…" Ziva paused again, her eyes searching the skyline for the words her mind wouldn't conjure. "It feels like you see her more than me." Her eyes carefully lowered to Abby's, fear of Abby's rejection of her selfishness slowing their progress.

"You think you're just the rebound girlfriend?" asked Abby, her naturally inquisitive mind wanting to clarify. Ziva frowned at the idiom. "You think that I'm only dating you until I get over Kate?"

Ziva nodded slowly, deciding that was the best way to describe her fears. She knew it was irrational; Abby would never do that to her. But she still couldn't help but doubt.

"No, Ziva. That's not it at all." Ziva inclined her head, silently asking Abby to explain, to reassure her that her fears were baseless. "That's why it took me so long before I actually admitted I might feel something for you—because I didn't want to make you the rebound. You mean so much more to me than that."

"I don't doubt your sincerity, Abby. I could never do that. I—" Ziva stopped when Abby laid a finger against her lips.

"I love you. I want to be with you. I'll admit, if Kate was still alive, it might be different, but she's not. And I still think about her sometimes and I like to remember what we had, but I also know that you're what I have now."

Ziva allowed a smile to cross her face as the sincerity in Abby's voice broke through her doubts. Everything would be okay, she sensed. She gladly accepted Abby's kiss, the last of doubts and fears melting away.

The End

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