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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

One Yellow Rose
By Jaina


Of all the hotel bars, in all the world, this is the last place that Abby Sciuto ever thought she'd see Ziva David. Of course, that's not quite true. She never really thought she'd see Ziva ever again. Not after Gibbs - Jenny - not after everything had fallen apart so spectacularly.

Abby drinks in every detail of the face she hasn't seen in over a decade. The lines and creases that hadn't been there the last time she saw her. She still looks gorgeous, Abby notes, and moves towards her without conscious thought.

Ziva leans back in her chair, crossing her legs and showing off the dark pants that fit over her like a second skin. The swell of her curves are shown off by a maroon top that Abby thinks is probably considered illegal and indecent in several countries. The leather jacket over it is all Ziva and so familiar that it almost makes Abby swoon.

She takes another step closer, drawn like a moth to flame and then stops as the person sitting at the table across from Ziva catches her attention. He's a short fidgety man with twitchy hands. Abby dislikes him on sight. He seems to be upset with Ziva. Yelling and arguing, occasionally punctuated by an angry hand gesture. It freezes her in his tracks.

The odds that after all this time, Ziva's still pursuing her former line of employment are very good actually. And Abby still has the sense not to get involved in something that may well be far over her head.

She forces herself to turn, and take a step away before the little man notices her staring. Even now, she still stands out in a crowd. The thought of walking away from Ziva completely though, is more than she can bare. Now that she's seen her again, the urge to talk to her is like an itch that's never quite gone away.

She can do this though. Abby forces herself to take another step back and then another. Casually she circles around the room and then walks purposefully towards the bar. She orders a drink without really taking much notice. When the bartender comes over, she smiles and flirts with him. He's cute and it's not much of an effort, but her heart isn't really in it.

Abby catches his sleeve just before he turns away. "Got a light?" She makes the universal gesture of a smoker in need. It's a war she's been waging for years and is currently losing. The bartender smiles indulgently and takes a pack of matches out of his hand and casually tosses them to her. She grabs them easily. It's only after he walks away that she looks down at what's in her hand and smiles.

The small book of matches bears the logo of her hotel. Triumphant, she fishes around in her purse until she finds what she's looking for - a pen. She scribbles her room number on the matchbook and sticks the pen back in her purse.

With a sip of drink, she looks back over her shoulder and instead of merely stealing another glimpse of Ziva as she had intended, she finds herself looking directly into the Israeli woman's eyes. Ziva's eyes don't widen and she doesn't startle in surprise, but even from across the room Abby can feel the intensity of Ziva's gaze.

Abby twirls the matchbook through her fingers and makes a point of setting it down on the bar before taking a last swig of her drink. It's all she can do to tear her eyes off of Ziva and walk away. But she hopes - hopes - that Ziva will come find her when she can. She doesn't dare to hope when that will be.

The cool crisp air hits her the moment that she walks out of the lobby. She savors it. It's a pleasant change from the atmosphere of the hot stuffy conference rooms that she's been in all week long now.

Coming to France for a forensics conference hadn't been her idea of fun. Most of the ideas were ones that she'd already heard and most of the people that she knew would be at the conference she really didn't want to talk to.

She lets out a long slow breath. Smirking, she fishes her cigarettes and a lighter out of her purse. As she attempts to light one up, she notices that her hands are shaking. It takes her two tries before she manages it. When she does she inhales deeply and rapidly several times before her hands stop shaking. When they do, she makes another circle around the block and then stubs out what is now her third cigarette.

She thinks, for a moment, about calling Tony before she goes up to her room, but she dismisses the idea. They speak only a few times a year now - holidays, her birthday - but she doesn't dare call him tonight. He knows her well enough to know that something's upsetting her, even a thousand miles away and she can't tell him about Ziva.

She takes her elevator back up to her room, finds the appropriate door and swipes her key card. The room is dark. Her breath goes out with a hiss. She'd left all of the lights on. Abby reaches behind her, her fingers reaching for the door knob.

A hand clamps over her mouth and then another arm is wrapping around her chest. Her arms are pinned to her sides and she doesn't even have a chance to struggle. The arm around her chest tightens it's already a vice like grip, and she can hardly breathe.

"Who sent you? What are you doing here?"

The accent is stronger than Abby remembers, and her words are more clipped. Her tone is frightening, but the speaker is still clearly, undeniably Ziva.

The only problem is she can't speak. The hand over her mouth is clamped just as tightly as the one around her chest. Instead of trying for an undignified mumble, she flicks her tongue out and licks the inside of Ziva's palm.

Abby hears a sharp hiss of surprise and then the hand around her mouth drops away. Abby takes a moment to stretch her jaw and then answers honestly.

"I'm here for a forensics conference all week. My employer sent me."

"Your employer?"

"I work for a private forensics research and development lab now."

Ziva says nothing. Abby is becoming very conscious of the way that Ziva is pressed against her back and she can feel her skin growing warm where Ziva's arm is wrapped around her.

"Are you planning to let me go anytime soon, or were you just getting comfortable?"

Ziva pulls away from her so quickly that it leaves Abby slightly off balance. "I'm sorry. I-" Ziva cuts herself off. She's staring at Abby now as if she can't quite believe she's there.

"What are you doing here," she repeats. Abby resists the urge to roll her eyes. She's already answered this question.

"Is that all you have to say? I thought you might be happy to see me again."

"I shouldn't even be here," Ziva says sharply. "It's -"

"Dangerous?" Abby asks easily. "It's always dangerous with you, Ziva." She tries and manages just barely not to sound bitter; in the end, she just sounds tired. Which, Abby thinks, she is tired. Very tired.

Ziva doesn't say anything, just looks away and paces towards the small window in the room. Abby takes a deep breath and follows her to the window. She reaches out slow and takes one of Ziva's hands. Ziva looks down at their joined hands, the way their fingers fit together still. Abby tugs on the hand she's holding and slowly backs up until she can bump into the bed. Sinking down, she gives Ziva's hand another gentle tug and pats the bed beside her.

When they're settled side-by-side, Ziva doesn't relinquish her hand. Instead she holds it in her lap, her thumb idly stroking Abby's hand. She shows no intention of letting it go.

Abby can't help the smile that curls over her lips. "How's life," she inquires softly.

"It is-" Ziva pauses to chose her words carefully. "It is not boring, but much the same as it was before."

Abby wonders before what. There are many things that could mean.

"You work for a private company now?" Ziva repeats. "I can't really imagine that. I never thought you'd leave NCIS."

"It wasn't the same without Gibbs." Abby admits. Or Tony. Or you, she thinks, but can't quite say.

Ziva grows silent and she looks away. Her grip on Abby's hand tightens. "Do you ever wish-"

"That things had happened differently?" Abby squeezes Ziva's hand back. "All the time."

The silence grows heavy in the room, weighted by their confessions.

"Oh," Ziva exclaims, "I almost forgot." She reaches into her jacket and pulls something out. In the minimal light of the room, Abby can barely make out what she's holding. It takes her several moments to realize that it's a yellow rose.

"For me," she questions in surprise. Ziva always had a knack for gestures that she would never have expected from her.

Ziva shrugs. "I looked for black, but this was all they had at the corner."

"Thank you," Abby says, and she really means it. Without thinking, she leans in and presses a quick kiss to Ziva's lips. It's nothing. A kiss of thanks - a little gesture that she's made a thousand times.

Only. The feeling of Ziva's lips on her, smooth and soft, yielding, but responsive under her own, is so familiar, so wonderful. She's forgotten - made herself forget - how wonderful kissing Ziva feels that she can't stop. Ziva's reaches up to cup her face, and draws her nearer.

Her tongue slips into Ziva's mouth, and she almost moans as Ziva's fingers tangle into her hair. She hisses when her fingers touch bare skin and suddenly she realizes that she's slipped her hand under Ziva's jacket and her top.

Abby gasps and jerks her hand back as if Ziva's skin was on fire. It's harder to make herself pull away from Ziva's tantalizing lips, but she manages.

"Ziva," her voice is far breathier than she had intended. "Ziva," she repeats. "This ended very badly."

Ziva pulls back regretfully, to give her room to think, to breathe. For the first time all night, she manages to meet Abby's eyes when she's confiding something important. "I miss you."

The simplicity and the immediacy of her statement almost break Abby's heart. Instead of replying, she leans in to rest her forehead against Ziva's. A dozen thoughts swirl through her mind. Protests against the things that led them here, and questions she knows Ziva can't answer, but she never doubts what she's going to do.

Without taking her eyes off of Ziva's she leans in and slowly brushes her lips against Ziva's. She begins to slowly strip off first her shirt and then her skirt, Ziva's hands fumbling along with her own. This is how they should be.

Later they lay together. Ziva presses her ear against Abby's chest, the sound of her heart beating below her ear slow and steady, reassuring beyond all expectations. Her hand slowly strokes up and down Abby's side. Abby lays still, her arms wrapped around Ziva and pretends not to notice the dampness on her skin that's not from her own skin, but Ziva's tears.

Slowly she dips her head until she can press a kiss on each of Ziva's cheeks. The moisture tastes salty against her lips, and for a moment she lets herself wonder about the things that Ziva's seen and done in the years since she last saw her. Some days she wishes she could just take Ziva away somewhere and make love to her until the world forgets about them both.

With the taste of Ziva's tears still on her tongue, she asks. "Will I ever see you again?"

Ziva's hand stills on her side. "Do you want to?"

"Yes." She admits it quickly and without thinking.

"Then you will." Her voice is low and soothing. "I promise you that, Abby Sciuto."

Abby catches Ziva's wrist and squeezes tightly. "You can't promise that. You can't know -"

Ziva presses her lips to Abby's, kissing her gently. "I can. Trust me. I will keep my promise."

Abby nods. She can do this. If Ziva will hold up her end of the bargain then she can do this much.

"When do you have to leave?"

"Mmm," Ziva groans. "Too soon."

Abby laughs and rolls over to straddle Ziva.

"Do you have time for this?"

"Yes," Ziva lets out a low chuckle, "Oh yes."

Three days later, Abby is back in the States - back to her house and her life. There's nothing to prove to herself that she even saw Ziva except for the fading bruise on her breast left by Ziva's lips.

Nudging the door open with the toe of her boot, Abby tosses her keys down on the table next to the door. She swings her bags through the door way and then carries them into the bedroom. She drops them on the floor and turns on the light as she sweeps out of the room.

Abby fumbles in her pocket for her cell phone as she walks into the kitchen. She takes a quick glance inside her fridge as she dials a familiar number by heart. The phone rings in her ear, as she concludes that there's nothing to eat or even a decent source of caffeine in her refrigerator. She'll have to do something about that just as soon as she can muster the energy.

"Abigail, to what do I owe this pleasure," the voice drawls over her cell phone.

"Nothing I'm sure, if you're up to your usual behavior," she teased back as she headed back to her bedroom.

"Well, I must have done something special - it's not even a holiday," Tony reminds her, but she's not listening to him anymore.

Sitting on her pillow is a fresh bouquet of black roses. In the midst of them rests one yellow rose.

The End

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