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Remembering the Past
Ziva felt a light tug on the chain of her necklace and looked down, drawn out of her recollections of the past. Abby was looking up at her. Ziva stroked Abby's hair fitfully, enjoying the feel of the silky strands under her fingers. It was soothing for her.
Abby was curled around her, half in her lap as she sprawled out along the length of the couch. Her hand rested on Ziva's chest, her fingers idly playing with the necklace that Ziva always wore. It had been a long and exhausting week. The cases had begun badly and ended worse. Both women were content to sit together in the silence of their own thoughts.
Ziva's were not particularly pleasant as she glanced down at the golden star Abby fingered.
He had promised her that if she graduated at the head of her class that he would be there. Ziva knew better than to hope that her father would show up anyway. She would graduate second in her class. It was not her fault that her class also boasted the most promising young genius in the country, but she should have found a way to do better. Second best was always far from good enough, she thought bitterly.
So once again her father would not be here and this time her mother was gone on an assignment as well. Her sisters had offered to come. Talia had insisted that she was coming, but Ziva had convinced her to go out with her friends instead. She had been considering not even going. Her friends were there, of course, but this was the day for their parents. She felt alone in the crowd and for once she resented the feeling.
As the head of the school made a speech that seemed to drone on and on in the heat of the afternoon sun, Ziva let her eyes drift, scanning the crowd. Large gatherings like this were always targets and security would be very present and very tight. It was a game that her father had taught her from a very young age. Now she did it out of habit and recognized it for what it had been - early training.
She didn't particularly mind though. She had known what she would do and become her whole life. The only thing left was to do it well enough to make her parents proud.
The man had finally stopped speaking and started calling out names, Ziva noted gratefully. This would be over soon. She rose and started towards the podium as the students in her row were called forward to accept their diplomas. She was almost to the stage when a quick shift of motion caught her eye.
A masked man was darting towards the girl behind her. She caught a quick glint of sunlight on metal and realized that he had a knife. She turned, putting as much of her weight and momentum behind it as she could, and shoved the girl away from them towards the ground.
"Knife!" She yelled as loudly as she could. The crowd erupted in motion, some surging forwards, while others tried to get away from them. The instant that the man saw her shove his intended target out of the way, he changed directions towards her. He was moving too quickly for her to get out of his way entirely, and the tip of the knife slashed across her ribs as she tried to side step away from him.
Adrenaline kept her from feeling the pain of the laceration as she jumped back away from him. He didn't waste any time in attacking her for a second time. He thrust the knife towards her midsection in a powerful move aimed to gut her. Acting on instinct, Ziva threw out her arm to deflect it. She was only partially successful, but instead of moving away from him again, she lunged closer and slammed her fist into his solar plexus with all of her considerable fury behind it.
The man staggered slightly and swiped at her throat. Ziva jerked back too quickly and lost her balance. She fell to the ground and tried to scramble away as her attacker lunged after her. He was almost on top of her when Ziva saw a man run up beside her.
He caught the arm of the man who held the knife and twisted it around behind his back so quickly that she could hear bones snap. The knife fell out of his hand and hit the ground with a clatter.
Ziva moved quickly to snatch it up as several more men came out of the crowd to grab her attacker. She stood slightly stunned as she melted back into the crowd of people that were slowly reforming around her. She was suddenly all too conscious of the blood leaking from the wounds on her side and her arm. It was sticky against her fingers as she pressed one hand to her side to slow the bleeding.
The crowd of men parted and Ari slipped away from them. He quickly wrapped and arm around her to support her and pressed his hand more firmly over hers to put more pressure on the wound. Ziva could feel herself growing faint, but she forced herself to stay conscious. She wouldn't pass out in front of Ari. It would be too embarrassing and a sign of weakness.
His voice was full of pride when he spoke. "You did well, little sister. If you hadn't been here, many more would have been hurt before he was stopped."
She smiled at his words and at a sudden realization. "You came," she said, more weakly than she would have liked. "You came to watch me."
He nodded, "I wouldn't have missed it." He squared himself and let go of her hand to scoop her up. "Now let's get you to a hospital. These need to be looked at."
Ziva thudded a fist against his chest and started to protest, both at being carried and at the need to go to the hospital.
"No," he cut her off, "Father will ask if you've been cared for when he finds out."
Ziva snorted and then winced in pain.
Ari shared her skepticism at their father's true concern, but this was different. "Even he cannot find fault with you for this," he said as soothingly as he could, but he still held a glimmer of doubt. He could feel her disagreement, but she remained silent the rest of the way to the hospital.
Two sets of stitches later, Ziva was released from the doctor's care with orders to go home and rest. It was early evening by the time that they left the hospital. Ari hailed a cab to take them back to the apartment that she called home along with her parents and sisters.
Both waited until they were inside before they began to talk again.
Ari made certain that she was seated comfortably before he asked, "So, what will you do now?"
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the question. "We both know what I will do."
He nodded. "Following in his footsteps."
She ducked her head, knowing better than to ask if they were fighting with one another again. If her own relationship with her father was difficult, she didn't know what to call Ari's relationship with him.
"What are you doing," she asked. "I didn't think that you were even in the country right now."
Ari grinned. "I decided to come visit my little sister, but I will have to leave again soon. I'm studying to become a doctor.
"Really?" She was surprised, but decided not to ask who's idea that was.
He shrugged. "It's a good skill to have. In a few years I'll be the one patching you up."
Ziva grinned ferally. "In a few years, they won't be able to touch me."
Ari laughed. "I'm sure. You did well enough today for one with very little training."
She grinned at the praise.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a square black case. He held it out to her. "I have to go, but this is a graduation present for you."
He stood as she took the case from him and opened it. Her eyes widened with delight as she saw the necklace sitting in it.
"Thank you," she whispered, looking up at him.
He nodded at kissed her forehead. "Be well, Ziva. Shalom."
Ziva felt a light tug on the chain of her necklace and looked down, drawn out of her recollections of the past. Abby was looking up at her.
"Deep thoughts?" She asked, cocking her head.
"I was thinking about the past," Ziva admitted. She wasn't sure how much she should explain or what reaction that she expected Abby to have.
But Abby only asked, "What did you conclude?"
Ziva smiled. The moods of Abby were many and mercurial, but it was her occasional bouts of solemn thoughtfulness that had surprised Ziva the most. It was a hidden facet of the usually hyper, outgoing woman and she loved being the one who got to see it.
"I concluded that the past is best left where it was, while the present is enjoyed to the fullest."
Abby grinned devilishly. "I like that conclusion."
"I thought you might," Ziva said and then leaned down to meet her lips for a kiss that made her forget about the past entirely.
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