DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I owe abby_forever many thanks for beta'ing this for me. She's awesome! :D
SPOILERS: Spoilers for Kill Ari I & II, although this is very alternate universe.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
"That's my desk."
A low snicker from across the aisle diverted Kate's attention.
Tony didn't look up from his magazine. She wondered what it was this time. Also how he still managed to be the first one to get answers for Gibbs, when no one ever actually saw him doing any work.
"What's so amusing, Tony?"
She resisted the urge to sigh and turned back to the curly, dark haired woman sitting behind her desk.
"I think there's been some kind of misunderstanding. I'm Kate Todd. That's my desk." Kate gestured to the desk in question before she folded her arms over her chest. She really wasn't in the mood for this today, and Tony was no help. She didn't even know who this woman was or why she was here.
The woman stood. A slight smirk drifted over her features. Something about her features nagged familiarly in the back of Kate's mind, but she couldn't quite place her.
The woman held her hand out to Kate. "Ziva David. No one told me that this desk was unavailable."
Kate rolled her eyes and resisted the urge to glare in Tony's direction.
"Word of advice: never listen to Tony. He has a one track mind."
Ziva's smirk grew bolder. "I think I am beginning to see that."
Kate frowned. "Have you been assigned to work a case with our team?"
Ziva stood and stepped towards her, hefting her bag across her shoulder to settle it.
"I have been assigned to be a part of your team."
Kate paused, and glanced back at Tony. He was still studying his magazine.
"In the Director's office," Tony finally offered. "Talking things over with Madame Director," he added with a hint of a leer.
"He'll never go for it," Kate declared. Leroy Jethro Gibbs might remain a man whose mind she couldn't decipher, but she did know one thing about him. He didn't tolerate things being dictated to him or his team from those on high - and that included team assignments.
"Pack your trash, David," Gibbs' voice drawled from behind her.
Kate tried to smile politely. She wasn't sure that she had succeeded. Knowledge of who exactly this woman was had just slipped into place in her mind. This was Ari Haswari's handler. This was, according to the report that Gibbs had thought she deserved to see, Haswari's half-sister. How could they ever have considered letting her join NCIS when her brother had come so close to destroying them? To killing her?
Lost in her own thoughts, she hardly listened as Ziva called out good-byes to her and Tony and then headed for the elevator.
"Bet you twenty that she comes back out of that elevator with Gibbs." Tony appeared beside her.
"What? No. There's no way that he'd let the Director..."
The door opened. Gibbs stepped out. Ziva was a step behind him.
"No way, Kate?" Tony drawled. "You owe me," he mouthed as he drifted back over to his own desk.
"Spare desk down at the end," Gibbs spoke. He ignored Tony and Kate. "What've we got, McGee?"
"Gibbs!" Kate protested before she realized that she'd spoken. She slipped from behind her desk to face him. "You can't seriously be considering letting her stay on the team."
"I can. I did." His look dared her to comment further.
She bit her tongue. How could she work with the woman whose brother had tried to, had come so very close to killing her?
Gibbs hesitated for a moment and then looked into her eyes. She'd learned not to flinch from that gaze, but it was hard.
"She deserves a chance, Kate."
And what could she say to that?
"I look like a freak."
"It could be worse, Abby," Kate tried to comfort her friend.
Abby frowned. "How," she asked with a slight pout.
Kate grimaced internally; she had to agree with Abby. She'd gotten so used to the forensic scientist's usual goth look that she found that she missed it more than she had expected.
"I think you look nice, Abby," Ziva spoke from the back of the room.
Three heads swiveled in her direction. Kate looked to Abby.
To her surprise, Abby smiled crookedly. It wasn't her usual thousand watt smile, but it was far from a pout and a frown.
"Thanks, Ziva. That's sweet. Not true," she amended with a grump, "but sweet."
"It's Kate," the woman in question spoke up sharply, not bothering to look up from her paperwork.
"Dr. Mallard calls you Caitlin."
"Ducky calls everyone by their full given name. You aren't Ducky."
Kate slowly put her pen down and glanced up as a shadow fell over the report that she was working on.
Ziva was perched on the edge of her desk, watching Kate expectantly.
"You do not like me."
"That's not true," Kate objected instantly. "I just - your brother tried to kill me," she hissed in a low voice.
Ziva's expression never changed but for the first time Kate saw something in her eyes. A hint of emotion.
"You could have killed him before," Ziva pointed out. "You did not. Do not blame me for your own weakness."
Kate blinked. It was the last thing that she'd expected to hear. "How do you know-" She cut herself off, feeling a dislike welling within her. Of course Ziva knew. She had been his handler. She knew everything. She wasn't sure whether the dislike was aimed more towards herself, for not following through when she could have, or Ziva for reminding her of it.
"Why do you truly dislike me? Is it DiNozzo?"
"No!" Kate had seen them flirting, and she had seen Ziva giving DiNozzo as good as he gave. It was amusing and almost enough to make her like Ziva. Anyone who could put DiNozzo in his place...
She shook her head and folded her arms across her desk. "No, I'm not interested in Tony at all. That's just - No." She added firmly.
Ziva chuckled at her sharp, rapid denial. It was a rich, low sound that sounded sinfully enjoyable.
"Way to make a guy feel wanted, Kate," Tony objected from across the aisle.
She'd forgotten he was still there, probably because he was the one who should have been finishing this report, not kicking back at his desk pretending to sleep.
"Oh, go back to sleep, Tony," she bit out. She'd had enough for one day.
Kate went in early the next morning. She wanted peace and quiet. A chance to get centered and catch up on the work that still needed to be done before the rest of the team got there. There would be no distractions.
Tony wouldn't be trying to look up her skirt or down her shirt. He wouldn't be trying to con her into writing his reports or harassing McGee about something insignificant, but painfully embarrassing to the junior agent. Ziva wouldn't be there, being well Ziva.
It had been bad enough when she and Tony had been stuck going through the woods on a wild goose chase the day before, leaving Ziva and Ducky to crack the case and save the day.
She wasn't sure how much more of the young Israeli agent that she could take.
"You Americans start the day so late."
Kate closed her eyes, and resisted the urge to drop her head to the desk and bang it repeatedly. It was a childish gesture worthy of Tony. She wouldn't give in to the temptation.
Instead she took a deep breath and opened her eyes.
"It's not a competition, you know?" Kate pointed out, trying to sound reasonable. "The only thing that matters is that you're on time." She smirked. "Gibbs really doesn't like it when you're late."
"You were here early," Ziva pointed out with a small smile. "It is an hour before anyone else will be in."
"I wanted to get a head start on a few things," Kate admitted. She wasn't going to tell Ziva that she hadn't finished the mission reports before she went home yesterday. Wouldn't give her the satisfaction.
"So it is a competition then," Ziva asked, canting her head to the side.
Kate felt irritation flash through her. What was it about Ziva that got under her skin so quickly?
"Of course," Ziva continued, "If you are going to compete, you should win. It is not worth it otherwise, yes?"
Ziva's question, accompanied by an almost flirty grin, startled a laugh out of Kate.
"Absolutely. You should always play to win."
"You see," Ziva smiled over her shoulder as she moved past Kate's desk to her own, "There is something that we can agree upon."
And Kate smiled. She had a feeling that this was going to be very interesting.
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