DISCLAIMER: This is a piece of fan-fiction. I don't own these characters (even if I made up a few). They're owned by Dick Wolf, CBS and others who I wouldn't know. No copyright infringement is intended, I'm not making a dime or even penny, I'm just playing with them, I'll put them back when I'm done I swear! Also, this is femme-slash, and has a couple of adult scenes, as well as some violence, so don't read if those things bother you.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the first time I have braved penning for this particular show. It's actually the first time I've ever written for anything other than Trek so I would greatly appreciate feed, constructive criticism or glowing praise or whatever. Special thanks go to Hayseven for giving this a quick beta-job. However, all mistakes are still mine.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

The Right Life
By Cirroco DeSade


It was not until she tossed her keys on her desk that she noticed the large bouquet of black roses sitting in a perfect pool of sunlight next to her computer. Beside them was a six-pack of Caf-Pow. She looked around the lab, clearly baffled. Gibbs had not called her to tell her there was a case he needed her to work in a hurry. Nobody had done anything to piss her off lately, so she could not think of why anybody would be trying to apologize with Caf-Pow as the team always seemed to do.

Shrugging, she moved closer, removed one rose from the vase and smelled it. A quirky grin erupted on her face. She would just have to wait and see who called wanting something. None of her guys would go to this much effort without somehow revealing themselves later.

Turning around to face her instruments, she strode over to grab her lab coat. "Hey guys!" she called out to her instruments cheerily. "It's time to start another work-week."

Stepping out of the airport in Tel Aviv, Ziva was assaulted by the dry, hot air she had done her best to forget about. It was impossible to totally forget the motherland, but she was very good at selectively editing her least favorite parts from her memory. It aided her sanity. Seeing the familiar uniforms on two IDF soldiers walking down the street, openly carrying their Uzis and speaking animatedly, she felt a wave of anger at them for their sloppiness. A trained killer was walking right past them and they had not so much as blinked at her. At least in America they always seemed to pull her out and search her at the checkpoints.

Hailing a cab, she spoke in her native tongue for the first time in months and it was actually slightly disquieting. The driver sped off like a lunatic dodging in and around town to her destination. She grinned as she thought of how terrified McGee or DiNozzo might be but somehow knew that Abby would have fun. Abby would be asking fifty questions and pointing in every direction. Slipping on her dark sunglasses, she sat back and tried to return her thoughts back to the matter at hand. It would not do to be distracted right now.

By mid-afternoon Abby was no closer to discovering who had left her the gifts and it bugged her. She was setting up another series of tests on some dirt that Tony had brought to her and planned to go down to grill Ducky while the Mass-Spectrometer ran. However before she was even finished entering her parameters she noticed the older man walking into her lab. With an exuberant smile, she waved at him.

"I'll be right there," she announced over the hum of her instruments. She watched the medical examiner investigate her roses with great interest. Moving over to him, he straightened and smiled.

"These are quite striking," he told her as she approached. "Are they for a special occasion?"

"I don't know," she responded, internally somewhat disappointed that the mystery was still unresolved. "They were just here when I arrived. But I love the color."

Diplomatic as ever he simply replied, "Indeed. Was there not a card?" She shook her head. "Perhaps one of our agents is repaying you for all your fine work."

"Oh, Ducky, you sure know how to sweet talk a girl," she exclaimed a bit jovially. It amused her that he blushed a bit. Putting the flower mystery aside, again, she asked him "so what can I do for you?"

He began to detail some strange evidence he had found on the corpse of a marine found by schoolchildren in Virginia. It was their current case and Gibbs and the Director wanted results immediately since the press had found out about it. Reporters had arrived at the scene before the team could, making Gibbs more than a bit angry and the team's job all the more difficult.

Throwing a large envelope down on his desk in front of him was a bit more audacious than she had ever been. Yet, she needed him to see the finality of this, that he no longer would bully her.

"Daughter," he spoke carefully, in measured tones meant to intimidate. "I would have scheduled time to see you if you had told me you were coming, however I am a bit busy right now. How long will you be home? Perhaps we can share a meal soon."

Ziva lowered herself into the seat across from him and for a moment only stared at him. He finally opened the envelope in front of him and pulled out the pictures within. There were pictures of Tony coming from her apartment, her having dinner with McGee and other images that could be easily used against her if taken in the wrong context by the wrong people. They had been given to her as a warning many months ago and it had taken her a while to decide what she would do.

"I believe you are already familiar with these," she said. He merely raised a brow, noncommittal. "I've come to tell you that this will no longer happen. I will no longer live under random surveillance or in your crosshairs. I will no longer be your pawn, father."

He smirked. "You are not my 'pawn,' Ziva. You are much too valuable for such a lowly title."

"I am no longer one of your pieces to move then," she replied. "I cannot truly retire from Mossad and I will always be faithful to Israel, but you have gone too far, too often. It is time I am allowed to truly live." She paused considering the value of her next words. "My heart is still alive despite both of our efforts to crush it. I no longer desire to lock it away and I do not think you have a right any longer. You have caused all of your family too much heartbreak."

His nostrils flared. "I could have you killed before you left this building, child. You will continue to do what I think is best, whether it be here or in America."

"If I die, some very interesting facts will be released to Israeli and American media automatically, father," she replied calmly. "By the time the furor dies down, and all of your machinations to get to the top revealed, you will no longer be a Deputy Director. They will remove you from power, if not make you disappear altogether."

"You have nothing on me," he ground out. "You are bluffing."

"I do not think you should test me," Ziva answered. "Because of you, my brother went mad and is dead. You killed his mother, which I can prove. You forced every one of us to be your little assassins, to become Mossad. You pushed me harder than all the rest until I was one of your very best agents. Is it so surprising that after spending this time with the Americans learning how to investigate instead of just kill I would find all the evidence I need to escape your clutches at last?"

Long moments passed as he glared at her over the desk then sighed. "How do you propose I pull your handlers away?"

"Make Shobi my handler," she answered. "It would be nice to see my little sister more often. Tell your associates you think I have become too soft for real wet work and I have become a true liaison. You can approach them with a self-pitying story about how horrible it is that America has taken your son and now weakened your daughter. Tell them I asked to stay indefinitely. They will believe it and agree with your decision to cut me off."

Standing up, she looked down on him, possibly for the last time. "Know that if I unexpectedly die at any point, my reports will be delivered. I must take measures regularly in multiple places to avoid that. It is in your best interest to protect me from any who would think to 'punish' me."

"Is this man worth this?" the older man asked with a growl and tossed a picture of Tony leaving her apartments across the desk in disgust. "Losing your family? Leaving Mossad?"

"He is not the reason, father, although he is a good friend." Ziva replied. "But you are correct that my heart is leading my actions now." She turned to leave, but as she put her hand on the door, she looked back over her shoulder and said one last thing. "And if I do enter a relationship, no matter what you think of it, you better not think of touching my partner. If you do, you will beg for death before I am done with you."

After that, she exited his office feeling somewhat more free, but still very aware that she was not out of the woods yet.

Her sister had been shocked by the news that she was to become a handler. Shobi was a midlevel agent who mostly conducted investigations from an office in Tel Aviv. For her to be assigned regular trips overseas to be her older sister's handler seemed outrageous. When the younger woman had confronted Ziva over dinner, she explained that she had fallen in love and it had caused her to want to change certain parts of her life.

"True love?" Shobi had asked using a certain tone indicating there were many layers to the question.

Ziva had smirked and answered affirmatively. She knew what Shobi had meant. Her little sister was one of the only ones who knew that Ziva truly preferred women and only dated men because the consequences of following her heart had always been too dire to dare.

"I will never understand this, you know this, but I wish you happiness always," her sister said. "Will I meet her when I visit? Do you live together?"

"She does not yet know my feelings," Ziva had confessed sadly. Then spoke more hesitantly than Shobi had seen in decades. "I often wonder what she might think. But we are very different. I do not know if I will even tell her. It is enough that because of her I finally decided to live my life instead of letting our father continue to control me."

A few days later, Abby added water to the vase on her desk at the end of her shift. It was well past when most of the people in the building left, but she had been relentless on being there whenever her team came in with more evidence. It had paid off in spades because they had caught the murderer in record time. He was even still carrying the murder weapon like an idiot. Gibbs could not get him to confess anything, but the man was not denying anything either.

The young woman was a bit surprised when, walking out from his third interview, her boss muttered wishes that Ziva was back from Israel. First, she had not realized that Ziva was away. It made her feel a little guilty about how wrapped up she could get. And second, she didn't know that Gibbs valued the older woman's skills like that. It made her wonder why he wanted her back.

She knew she had not spent nearly enough time getting to know their newest team member. It still hurt to see her sometimes sitting in Caitlin's desk, reminding her of what she had lost there. Abby and Kate had been very close and on the verge of becoming much closer when Ari Haswari had killed her. All these months later, it still jarred Abby occasionally to hear that accent spoken in their offices.

"Abby, are you coming?" McGee asked as he peaked around her doorframe. Tony and McGee had suggested a celebratory dinner down the street at Phillip's Flagship, a tacky little place in her opinion, but Tony liked it a lot.

"Yeah, give me a second," she answered distractedly. Tossing off her lab coat all of her visible tattoos again revealed to the world, she grabbed a brown leather jacket with big patches of chains dangling everywhere. It matched the chain choke collar she had worn today and the platform boots that jangled with numerous buckles.

"Thank God we don't have to go through metal detectors," Tim joked to which she just smirked.

Throwing the last lock into place, Ziva sighed in relief to be home. She had only been gone five days, but with the long flights, with all that she had done, with all of the stresses it had felt like a lifetime. It was not every week that you severed most of the ties to your home country.

Now she was back in America on the last two days of her so-called vacation. How many people used their vacation days to escape parts of their past and try to start over, she wondered. It did not seem like a normal activity for a vacation, but since she had never had a true vacation, she was not sure.

She listened to her messages and sorted through her clothing but really did not feel up to housework or laundry. She felt like having a drink and if possible, watching her favorite subject in action. With that decided, she dressed a little more appropriately for the bar she would visit. She donned black jeans, a black dress shirt and a thin black leather jacket. Her hair she pulled back into a very loose braid and then she added a dark crimson lipstick. Dark glasses finished the outfit.

She had slipped unnoticed on several occasions into the bar, an amazing feat considering you entered through a dance floor. It was close to Logan Circle, off U street, a resurrected jazz bar and a restaurant that accommodated many different styles, changing themes each night. A lot of the Goth crowd in DC spent their time here Friday night, in particular Abby Sciuto. Ziva had come and sipped beers in a dark corner upstairs, observing, ready to move if Abby got herself into trouble with the dark crowd.

Ziva could not entirely understand the Goth culture that Abby surrounded herself with during her off time. So many of the men seemed rough or dirty, and certainly, from the random conversations she had endured, not nearly as bright as Abby. Perhaps she had just not met the right men, because none of Abby's friends ever approached her.

She had no problems getting into the club and heading upstairs, finding her usual small table unoccupied. She ordered a draft beer and Mesir Wot, an Ethiopian Lentil soup that the restaurant in the bar did really well. It reminded her a bit of a dish her mother used to cook. She would have preferred a red wine to the beer, but the typical Goth in here did not drink wine, so while here neither would she.

A couple of hours passed before she saw Abby enter. She had almost been ready to give up and go home, but had decided against it simply because she did not truly want to sit alone in her apartment anyway. It was not as if she was interacting with anybody here, but people watching was more interesting than sitting in her empty apartment. This aspect of American culture she found fascinating, so different from anything she had ever known.

Abby was wearing a ridiculously short, plaid skirt, a tight white top with suspenders and some kind of shredded jacket. Her hair and makeup was the same as she wore it to work, and it made Ziva smile. It was one of the things that fascinated her: how absolutely true to herself Abby always stayed.

Ziva watched the young woman bounce up to a friend and engulf him in a big hug, then sit down on a female friend's lap. She had seen her with that group more than once. A server approached them, and although the Mossad agent could not hear what she was saying, she knew without a doubt that the Goth would order a 'Fruit Loop', which was a bizarrely named drink if you asked her.

There was a man that sometimes settled on the periphery of the group, not really participating, but always watching Abby. He was here tonight Ziva knew, and it was not long after Abby's arrival that he found his way to the edge of the group. Every time Abby would dance, he would follow to the edge of the dance floor, or go to the bar and lean back, watching the dance floor. Ziva did not like his behavior, even as she realized she was technically guilty of the same thing.

Abby was an innocent even with all her punk trappings, or at least Ziva could see her as nothing more than an innocent. It brought out Ziva's protective side and she had a very hard time ignoring it in order to let Abby simply live her life. Yet here, she knew Abby had not even noticed her young male stalker, or else she decided he was harmless. It would be like her to simply trust.

Of course, it pained Ziva when she thought about the fact that Abby still had not given her the same trust. She knew that she reminded the young woman of her lost friend Kate, but she had tried to reach out more than once. At first, it had not really mattered to her. Abby was just the quirky scientist they relied on for test results and she did not understand why the entire team was so enamored with her. However, over time she saw what the others did or at least she thought she did. She began looking forward to seeing her, seeking her out when possible in order to see her smile or just to see what outrageous outfit the American would choose next.

Then an ex-boyfriend attacked the scientist and Ziva found out how deep her feelings really had begun to run. She had experienced a chillingly deep desire to find the man and torture him. She did not really want to follow the American rules of justice. However, she knew she had to play by their rules. At the time she decided that if she could not be the one there protecting Abby, she had wanted if not needed her to have something to protect herself, so she had given the younger woman a taser, something she was sure Abby would use. In the end, it had been so much worse and much more chilling as a defendant had actually hired an assassin to kill Abby to try to avoid her testimony and the team had barely figured it out in time.

After apprehending the real threat, Ziva had spent a lot of time soul searching, and in time knew what she felt. It may have been a surprise at first, but after her initial shock, she simply let herself feel, to experience a growing love, even if it was secret love.

Ziva was startled out of her memories to see that Abby was waving goodbye to her friends. The Israeli looked down at her watch and realized that quite some time had passed while she was observing and musing. She left a large tip for her server and found her way out to follow the young woman at a distance. It had become a habit of hers to watch her safely home whenever she came out on these Fridays. It assuaged some of her guilt for what was essentially stalking her friend.

Once she hit the street, she crossed over to the other side in order to stay on the side with fewer streetlights. She knew that Abby would head down to the metro station and take the subways as far as she could before walking the rest of the way to her apartment. The young woman was conscientious about her Friday night partying, never driving herself to the club.

Up ahead, Ziva noticed another person, a man. He was walking slowly and Ziva became more alert when she realized he was paying too much attention to Abby. She decreased the distance between herself and him, but not in time for both Abby and the man to descend the stairs to the Metro. However, she caught a glance of him in the light and realized it was that man who watched Abby in the club.

Ziva broke into a jog to close some of the distance. She took the steps three at a time and impatiently threw her token into the turnstiles, looking around to find her friend and the man who had been following her. He had blended into the crowd behind Abby well. It was close to closing time for most of the bars in DC and the trains would only be running another hour or so, so there was always a crowd at this time.

It amazed Ziva that even at this hour Abby could exude cheeriness, as well as innocent obliviousness. However, most Americans felt safe on their public transportation systems, where most Israelis always looked over their shoulders. When the train arrived and some of its passengers departed, Ziva chose to go in the rear door of the car and stood in such a way that she could see both the man and Abby.

Abby changed lines and so did her stalker, with Ziva behind both. The Mossad agent began to get worried. Was he stupid enough to try something in public? DC streets were not always exactly safe, nor did people always report what they noticed or even stop when they noticed something.

She followed them both away from the Abby's last stop and toward Abby's place, keeping a safe distance, but she was close enough to reach Abby if needed. She really did not want the scientist to see her, and this was the closest distance from which she had tailed her, but her instincts were screaming at her just to grab the man in a pre-emptive strike.

Turning a corner, she no longer saw Abby or the man. Frantically she ran to the alley she knew was ahead and spotted them at the same time as she cleared her gun from its holster in the small of her back. He had his hand over her mouth, dragging a wildly kicking Abby further down the dark lane.

Running forward as silently as possible, Ziva chose not to let the man know of her approach until she was practically on him. When he finally noticed her, she was within a couple of feet of him with her gun sighted directly in the middle of his head.

"Release her or die," she shouted.

The man fearfully pushed Abby away. "Okay, hey, take her," he said quickly, and started tripping back quickly, looking for an avenue of escape.

Ziva instinctively pulled Abby behind her and as she noticed the man about to run, violently kicked his legs out from under him. "I did not say you could go anywhere!" Looking back at Abby she asked, "Are you okay?" Shaken and crying Abby just barely nodded.

"Call Gibbs; he will know what to do," Ziva ordered.

Abby walked further away, happy to call the man she considered a second father.

"You are lucky I am constrained by American rules now," Ziva growled at the man on the ground whimpering. "But you are welcome to try to escape so I can subdue you, Mossad style."

She was not prepared to answer the questions in Gibbs eyes. Nor was she particularly thrilled with the idea that she would eventually have to explain to Abby how she came to be nearby. Even now, Abby was looking at her oddly. The police had finished questioning her and she had considered silently escaping, but knew that that would probably only make things worse.

"That's a different look for you," Abby said and walked over near her.

"I," Ziva began, trying to figure out what to say, but saw that Gibbs was coming to join them. She could delay for another couple of minutes. She wondered how this woman had reduced her to such cowardice.

"Ladies," Gibbs said, and Abby of course turned, giving her entire attention to the older man. "He's on his way downtown. We can talk more about this Monday, but for now I can drive you both home."

"Thanks, but Ziva's going to walk me the rest of the way, Gibbs," Abby said immediately. "I think I'll be safe and it's not like it's too far." She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. "I don't want to be afraid in my own neighborhood."

"Ziva?" Gibbs said simply, making sure the agent was okay with that. She simply nodded. Their shared history allowed a lot to go unspoken. "Okay, well," he walked up to her, putting his hand on the agent's shoulder. "I thank you, once again, for your impeccable timing."

Abby had threaded her arm through Ziva's and practically drug her out of the alley. They walked in silence towards the apartments in the distance. At least they were visible now Ziva thought. She tried not to enjoy Abby's arm in her own, but it was an undeniable pleasure she had not sought, so she told herself to stop feeling guilty about that at least.

"What a way to get sober real quick," Abby commented idly.

"Better than dog's hair?" Ziva asked trying to keep the conversation light. Abby snorted and leaned her head against Ziva's shoulder for a minute, then straightened back up. "Is it cat's hair?" Ziva asked in confusion.

"No, you kind of had it right," Abby answered then set about explaining that particular idiom to the confused agent. It always made her feel less intimidated by the woman when she showed such a simple imperfection.

They reached the front of her brownstone and Ziva stopped, not knowing what to expect, or even what she wanted. Undaunted Abby just used their linked arms to pull the brunette along with her. "Come on."

After they got into Abby's apartment, Ziva looked around. She had wondered what it would look like and found it interesting. There was an eclectic mix of punk and artsy, dolls and risqué humor. Everything obviously had a place to be, because nothing looked 'out of place.' The bizarre furniture matched each other and Ziva was not the least bit surprised to find a bright pink velvet couch surrounded by large black leather recliners. She found herself wanting to peek into the bedroom to see the famous coffin that Abby had spoken of more than once in the office, but restrained her urges.

Abby strode over to one of the oversized chairs and sat, studying the woman across from her. She knew she should be a lot more upset right now, but supposed it would hit a lot harder later. Maybe it was some sort of shock, she mused. At the moment, the mystery that was her team-mate in front her consumed her full attention.

"So," Abby said getting Ziva's attention. "Why don't you sit and keep me company for a while?" Seeing that the other woman was unsure she added, "I really don't want to be alone yet."

"Okay," Ziva said. She was unable to deny the Goth a comfort so simple. She walked over and sat on the couch across from the young woman. She could not remember feeling this awkward since she was a kid. "You have a nice place."

"Thanks. And you look good like that," Abby responded, charmed when Ziva actually looked down with a small smirk. "How did you know to be there?"

Ziva knew she needed to be honest. It was the only thing left to do. Maybe Abby would forgive her. "He was watching you in the club with too intense an interest. When I discovered he had followed you from the club I had to make sure you made it home alright."

"But, why were you at Bar Nun?" Abby asked pointedly. "I've seen Gil there lots of time. I've never seen you."

Ziva stood and paced away nervously, approaching the window and looking down to the street. "Would you believe it's because I like Ethiopian?" Ziva asked wistfully.

"Sure, I'll believe you like Ethiopian, but most people eat dinner a lot earlier," Abby answered quickly, "so that doesn't explain it all, does it? Hey," the younger woman exclaimed, "when did you get back from Israel?"

"Early tonight," she answered. "You knew about that?" Ziva asked in surprise.

Abby smirked and got up and walked over next to the brunette. "Well, Gibbs was missing you during a case and mentioned it. Otherwise, I probably would not have known. Was it an official visit or what?"

Ziva turned and looked at Abby. "Semi-official," she answered. Abby looked at her, obviously wanting to hear more, but Ziva would volunteer no more.

"Well, whatever the reason, I'm certainly glad you got back in time to trail after me and stop the bad guy." Abby suddenly hugged Ziva hard. She kissed the agent on the cheek.

Ziva smiled and wrapped her arms around the other woman. She was enjoying the way Abby was leaning against her. It seemed like the scientist was rubbing her cheek slowly against her own. The Israeli could not entirely control a shiver that this caused and she felt Abby's face split into a smile.

"So, how about I take you out to dinner one night in thanks?" Abby said softly into Ziva's ear.

"I would like this," Ziva answered, her voice slightly husky. Hoping she was reading the other woman's body language correctly, she dared to be a bit more assertive. She pulled back and kissed Abby gently on the lips. "I would like this a lot, Abby."

Abby pulled away after a moment and bounced, a wide grin splitting her face. "Why Officer David, I had no idea you were so daring."

"There is much you do not know about me," Ziva answered. "And much I would like to know about you. Perhaps, you will give me the opportunity?"

"Oh yeah," Abby answered. She grabbed the agent's hand and pulled her back to the couch. "So let's talk. Starting with, how often you've gone to Bar Nun."

It bemused Ziva as Abby essentially manhandled her, pushed her down onto the couch and sat on her lap. She tried to order her thoughts to tell her side of the story, but it was hard as Abby began absently playing with her braid and lightly running her fingertips up the back of her neck. It took a few minutes before she noticed the smirk on the younger woman's lips and she realized she was being manipulated.

Leaning forward abruptly, she captured Abby's head in between both hands and brought their lips together for a scorching kiss. She plundered the young woman's mouth, enjoying the sweet taste of her, and the slight whimper. Releasing her she leaned back and waited until the other woman opened her eyes again.

"I will tell you what you want to know," Ziva said with a smirk, "but you must stop with the sweet distractions."

It was just before six in the morning before Ziva managed to return to her apartment. On any normal day, she would have already been up by now, running. Between the IDF and Mossad, Ziva had habits so well engrained that she did not even try to escape them most days. Today would be an exception. She really needed some sleep.

She suffered from a small amount of jet lag not to mention a great deal of surprise at the rapid turn of events in her life. She really had not planned to approach Abby this quickly with her feelings. Now she had a date set up for this very evening. Abby was quite insistent that they not wait and the Israeli was already finding out there would be many times she would be unable to deny the American.

She showered and was just lying down on her bed when her cell phone rang. Groaning in frustration she internally debated ignoring it, but knew she would not. Picking it up, she saw that it was Gibbs.

"David," she answered tiredly.

"Do you want to finish out your vacation or would you like to help on a new case we just got?" her team leader asked with no preamble whatsoever.

Ziva thought about it. Gibbs would probably call in Abby on the case, so it was likely that she would see more of her by working the case than by remaining off duty. "I have taken care of what I needed to handle, so the rest of my vacation time is irrelevant."

"Good," he said brusquely. "Pack a light overnight bag. I'll be over to pick you up in twenty minutes."

Before she could ask anything, he had already disconnected. Standing she sighed and began getting dressed before she could repack her rucksack with clean cloths. Unless Gibbs did something very unusual, it would appear that her date with Abby would be have to wait.

"Connecticut?" Abby exclaimed into her phone. "What the hell is up there?"

"A Naval submarine base," Ziva answered. "A NAVSUBSCOL trainer was found dead outside a pharmaceutical research facility. The company is ready to accuse the US government of spying. McGee is doing well at keeping them happy for now while we investigate."

"This sucks," Abby said, pouting. "I won't even be able to help you guys."

Ziva smiled as she imagined the Goth girl's facial expression. "I know. We miss you already. The base's techs are not the shiniest bulbs in the box."

Abby just smiled, and gently corrected her. "Brightest, not shiniest, Ziva."

"I see no difference," Ziva muttered. "Regardless, you are missed."

"How much?" Abby asked teasingly.

Ziva noticed Tony and Gibbs approaching. "I will call you later and describe in greater detail. For now, I must go. I am truly sorry about dinner."

"Hmmm," Abby hummed. "I'll think of a way for you to make up for it."

"Tag, meines süßes. Ich liebe Sie," Ziva purred into the phone. "I need to go."

"Hey!" Abby yelled. "That's not Hebrew."

"No," Ziva laughed, "It's not."

Ziva David had not been so glad to see the inside of a hotel room in a very long time. She had not gotten true rest in a very long time; essentially the last uninterrupted sleep she had gotten had been in Israel. Yet, even that had been light, since she felt she could not let her guard down.

It was late into Saturday night and Gibbs had finally declared that they would not be getting anything else done so they should rest. Ziva did not even feel like undressing. Instead, she simply removed her guns and the knife and its sheath from the base of her back then fell back onto the bed. She had barely closed her eyes when there was a knock on her door.

"Kusemek," she swore gently.

She was fairly sure that only a teammate would be bothering her at this hour. Standing, she made her way to the door and confirmed through the peephole that it was just Gibbs. Opening the door and stepping aside in unspoken invitation, she waited for him to pass then tiredly walked over to the room's little table and sat. He sat down across from her and simply stared. He would occasionally take a sip of his ever-present coffee, but did not say a word.

"I am not interested in playing games while so tired, so please tell me why you are here," Ziva finally said after a few minutes had passed like this. "I know if it was related to the case you would be speaking by now."

"Abby," he said then waited again.

"What about Abby," she asked in reply.

"I'm wondering how you came to be in the perfect place at the right time this morning," he answered. When she did not reply and instead just lifted a brow he continued. "I'm wondering what your intentions are regarding our Abby, Ziva."

"I have just broken the bonds of one overbearing father Gibbs," Ziva said plainly, "I do not need another."

"In this, I see myself more in a paternal role for Abby, not you," he replied. "You know as well as I do that she is too trusting; maybe a bit too innocent."

"Are you saying she should not trust me?" Ziva asked calmly, an eyebrow rising seriously. "Do you still not trust me, Gibbs?"

He did not immediately answer, instead choosing to sip his coffee and meet her demanding stare. "Rule number twelve," he finally responded. "Never date a coworker. And with your father it could be especially dangerous for the two of you."

She stared at him for a while then sighed. Standing, she paced away, gathering her thoughts while getting her water from the bedside where she had left it. Returning, she sat back across from him.

"I am making my own rules now," she answered, "at least as it pertains to my heart." He looked at her in surprise. "As for my father, he no longer has the same power over me. I have recently assured that." She took a long drink. "You of all people should know I will protect her."

"You can protect her from an attack," he said softly. "But can you protect her from heartache if the two of you don't work out?"

"Can you not just wish us success? Have I not earned a chance at love by now?" she asked heatedly. Composing herself, she continued more calmly. "She already knows I have feelings for her, and because of this she asked me to dinner, Gibbs. I do not think Abby would like it if I cancelled now simply because you said I must. Rule number twelve is irrelevant. Abby changes all the rules."

He snorted. "There is that," he agreed. Standing he came over to where she sat and placed his hand on her shoulder. "It's not that I don't trust you, Ziva. I just don't want either of you hurt. But I do know when to back off. Just don't let it get in the way of work."

He turned to leave but before he made it out the door, he turned back and looked at her again. "Oh, and get some sleep. You look like hell." Then, with a wink and a grin, he left.

"So, the Silverfox has given us his blessing?" Abby asked, sounding a bit gleeful in Ziva's opinion.

"I would not call it a blessing," Ziva answered, amused. She was still tired and did not know what had compelled her to call the scientist first thing in the morning, but she had given in to the urge. "I would say he is simply giving us permission because he has little choice otherwise."

"Well, that's close to a blessing," Abby rationalized. "Anyway, how long do you think you guys will be in Groton?"

"I'm not sure, but I have a feeling it may be a while," Ziva answered then sighed. "Our dead officer was currently instructing a BESS class and upon questioning Gibbs noticed that several of the enlistee's showed some erratic behaviors. He had them tested for a full range of drugs and there is something unidentified in those sailor's blood tests. We are trying to determine if our dead officer discovered something and was silenced, or if he was complicit himself. Not to mention we still need to find out what the drug is in their system. Pfizer is not being very cooperative about whether or not they recognize the substance."

"Wow," Abby answered. "You need me and Ducky to work some samples?"

"The leadership at the school is insisting that no samples leave base yet," Ziva answered. "And the main physician working with us is indignant that somebody may have been drugging recruits. Gibbs believes she will be a big help. He apparently knows her from somewhere and trusts her."

"Well," Abby said, "I guess I'll have to find another way to spend my Sunday."

"I am sure you will not have difficulty finding trouble to get into," Ziva answered. "But, be aware, none of us are there to get you out of it."

"Ha ha," Abby said sarcastically.

"I must get ready and join the team now, Abby," Ziva said softly.

"Alright," the younger woman answered. "Oh, and I figured out that what you said yesterday was most likely in German." When Ziva did not confirm or deny what she said, Abby asked, "right?"

"Yes," Ziva said seriously. "Now I will have to choose another language for you." Pausing she thought about it. "Tu tenes mon coeur dans vos mains."

"Damnit!" Abby exclaimed. "That's not fair. How many languages do you know?"

"Enough to be able to say how I feel to you in many different ways," Ziva answered. "Goodbye, Abby. I'll call you later."

Abby was pleasantly surprised that Ziva did make time to call her at least twice a day, updating her on the team's progress and generally taking time to talk. She was also both charmed and frustrated by the older woman's parting phrases each time, as they were always in different languages. Since Ziva spoke many languages fluently, the parting shots were spoken too quickly for Abby to have any hope of memorizing them. She would have to pin her down on that once she returned.

It was annoying her that the Navy was being so secretive about the substance found in the sailors' blood, because as far as she was concerned, if they had let her help at the beginning, maybe her team would be back where they belonged. As it was already four days after the team left, it was taking far too long in her opinion.

A tap on her door made her turn to find a young man nervously holding a bouquet of black roses. He stammered out a confirmation of her identity, then handed her the vase. "I'm sorry ma'am," he said softly, and she noticed he was actually sweating nervously, "I didn't even know we had black flowers, or why my boss would go along with sending them."

"They're beautiful," she exclaimed and bounced over to grab them from him. "Thanks!"

He bobbed his head and quickly escaped. She rolled her eyes and took her new bouquet over to where she had just cleared out the last. Grabbing the card out, she smirked when she read it.

"I look forward to dinner," the card read.

She was glad to see they were from Ziva. At least this confirmed her suspicions. She had not thought to ask the agent if she had been the one to leave the flowers and Caf-Pow that time.

It was a little strange to her how quickly Ziva was getting under her skin considering how long she had pretty much ignored her, but she never had been one to hold back once she made up her mind about something. It just bugged her that they could not actually spend some time together yet.

As she contemplated what she might get the Israeli in return, she realized she did not know much about Ziva's likes and dislikes. In fact, she was not entirely sure why Ziva had become attracted to her. Of course, she was not foolish enough to look that gift horse in the mouth. The Mossad agent was deadly sexy, Abby thought with a smirk.

"My, my," Ducky said behind her, startling her out of her thoughts. "It looks like somebody has an admirer. Two bouquets in two week's time is indeed a telling sign."

Despite herself, she felt a blush. She knew her skin was pale enough that she had no hopes of him not seeing it. "Yeah," she answered, "it appears I do."

Ziva rolled her eyes and restrained an urge to mutter curses at her reckless American partner. She and Tony had been sent to the on base house listed for their suspect, a Petty Officer who conducted some of the BESS classes. A Pfizer scientist had finally confessed his part in an unsanctioned experiment using the BESS recruits as unwitting test subjects. He had implicated a partner within NAVSUBSCOL, Petty Officer Jack Parker, so Ziva and Tony were hoping to find him at home and unaware. Gibbs and McGee were checking other logical places on base.

The Mossad agent quickly pulled her lock picking tools out of a pocket and set to work on the front door's lock. Her impulsive partner had found the back door unlocked and had phoned her letting her know in quick whispers that her was going to "check it out real quick." Since they did not even know if the man was there, it was sheer foolishness to go in without backup and Ziva planned to let Tony feel her wrath later, if he did not get himself killed.

Letting the door slide open by inches she waited a moment behind its frame with her gun drawn and then peeked through the gap. Seeing nothing in the front room or hallway, she slipped silently in and set the door right. Staying still, she tuned her senses, trying to hear any hint of somebody's presence other than her idiot partner. Creeping forward, clearing the living room, she started towards the kitchen. As she neared the small kitchen's doorway she saw not only Tony, slowly looking into an adjacent bedroom, she also saw their suspect.

He stood directly across from her with his gun leveled at an unsuspecting Tony's head. In a split second, she figured out the fastest non-lethal way she knew to save her partner and shot the suspect's gun hand. She really was trying to improve and not kill the suspects as it displeased the Americans so. Tony whirled and dropped to the floor at the same time, a maneuver that impressed Ziva marginally, even taking aim at the now injured Petty Officer.

Unfortunately, while she was busy being impressed with Tony, Parker pulled a knife and threw it at her with his good hand. She reacted quick enough to avoid having it buried in her throat by deflecting it with her arm and dodging simultaneously. However, she did not escape injury and that made her very angry. With an angry scream and a slew of Hebrew curses, she whirled up, sending a roundhouse kick to the officer's head. He stayed up by some miracle, but he was obviously dazed. She followed that kick rapidly with another, sweeping his legs out from under him and crushing one his knees in the process.

Once he was on his back, she was above him, her gun sighted in the middle of his forehead. He appeared to be about to try to get up again and Ziva was wondering if Gibbs might forgive her if she shot him again. The world did not need such idiots, as they tampered with the gene pool. She shouted for him to stay down.

"Ziva," Tony shouted at her, "I doubt he understands whatever you're saying any better than I do." He smirked. "Back up, let me cuff him."

She had not even realized she was still speaking in her mother tongue, and that was extraordinarily disconcerting. She watched dispassionately as Tony flipped the man over and roughly handcuffed him. She did not know whether to be amused or insulted when he told the man he was lucky to be alive, that he was the first person that Tony had ever seen blood Ziva and live to tell the tale.

He took out his gun and pointed it at the suspect, covering him. Turning to the brunette, he asked, "Hey, why don't you call Gibbs and let him know we got Parker and that we need some MPs out here? And go wrap a towel around that arm or something. In case you haven't noticed, you're bleeding."

Now that he had pointed it out, the pain of the cut began to sink in. She looked down and noticed how deep the wound was; she realized that at least part of it tore through some muscle in her forearm. It made her wish that she had killed the man or at least tortured him. She had dealt with these types of injuries before, and while not serious, they took a long time to recover to 100% and they left identifying scars, which were never good for somebody like her.

Muttering about the America's idiocy of not killing dangerous and armed suspects, Ziva grabbed a nearby hand towel and twisted it around her arm. She then called Gibbs as requested, finally taking a seat and watching Tony smirk at the now compliant Petty Officer. Ziva hoped this meant they could finally go home. She would be happy never to see this particular base again.

For the second week in a row, Ziva emptied her overnight bag. The pile of laundry seemed annoyingly large now, so she decided she would take the majority of it down to the cleaners around the corner from her and let the little old Chinese woman do it. She did not do that very often, but she had done it often enough to know she could trust her. Moreover, the woman was talented at sewing up ripped or torn clothing. Sorting through the piles, pulling out personal items and making sure there was nothing in her pockets, she threw it all back in a duffel bag that she placed near her front door. With that done, she contemplated what she might do for dinner. Before she could make a decision, the doorbell rang.

Crossing the room, her cautious nature had her putting her hand on the gun at the small of her back as she leaned over to peer through the peephole. She smiled and relaxed at the comically large view of Abby leaning close to the other side of the peephole. Opening the door she was surprised when Abby came barging through immediately poking at her chest.

"You did not tell me you got hurt," she growled, a poke accentuating each word.

Ziva backed up with each jab until they were both in the apartment and then grabbed the offending finger. Lightly kissing the fingertip, she smiled sweetly at the taller woman. "It is just a scratch, nothing to worry about. I did not think to inform you, as you never had shown any concern before."

"Yeah," Abby pouted, prettily in Ziva's opinion, "well, that was before. Now, it's different."

The agent wrapped her fingers into the taller woman's, and pulled her back, leading her to the couch. "I am still the same person. I am still an Officer in NCIS, and a Mossad agent. I live a dangerous life. Despite all my training and preparation, occasionally I will be injured. I did not think that this would concern you, since it never seemed to before. You always showed more concern for McGee or DiNozzo."

"Well," Abby crossed her arms, "like I said, now it's different." She pulled the arm with the bandages towards her. "And McGee said you had to get an orthopedic surgeon to look at it and he put in thirty five stitches."

Ziva sighed, "McGee talks too much I think." She reached up with her free hand and touched a soft cheek. "I am fine. I am flattered that you are concerned about me now, but just know I will always do my best to stay in one piece." Leaning in, she stole a soft kiss. "However, Tony would not be here if I had not shot that officer, so I think it is worth it," she paused and added seriously, "even if DiNozzo is a childish man and occasionally the bane of my day."

"Well, I hope you aren't going to let him thank you by taking you out," the Goth said with a smirk. Ziva simply snorted. "So, when can I take you out, Madame?"

Ziva leaned back into Abby's personal space, bringing her lips next to the younger woman's ear, to whisper. "Vous pouvez me prendre où vous aimeriez à, quand vous aimeriez à, ma beauté sombre." She was happy to see Abby shiver in response and pulled back. She stood, slowly withdrawing her arm from Abby's grasp. "Have you eaten? May I entice you into sharing a meal with me? I will cook."

Abby swallowed visibly, then said, "I have no idea what you just said, but you can say it to me anytime, if you're going to say it that way."

She stood and followed the agent into her kitchen, noting the neat apartment as she went. There was dark impressionistic artwork hanging on the walls and it somehow fit her image of Ziva. The furniture was all dark woods and solid colors, the lighting subdued, the whole atmosphere oddly peaceful for such dark settings.

"How did you know I might date a woman anyway?" Abby asked Ziva curiously, as she watched her pulling the appropriate cookware out.

"Abigail," Ziva answered seriously, an amused look on face, "I am Mossad."

"Oh yeah," Abby said and rolled her eyes at herself. "I guess I'm still a little surprised."

Ziva smiled the smirk that seemed unique to her. "In all honesty, so am I," she replied. "I have not allowed myself an affair with a woman, other than when a job required it, in a very long time. You have a magical way of avoiding the most heavily built defenses and working your way into people's hearts, yes?"

Abby blushed and Ziva was charmed. It was a comfortable moment. Turning her attention back to making the meal she had begun she directed the Goth to relax at the table. Abby instead poked around, nosily peeking in cabinets and generally amusing Ziva with her impetuous behavior. She even came up behind Ziva at one point, leaning on her, laying her chin down on her shoulder to peek at what the brunette was cooking.

"You are a very tactile person," Ziva observed.

"Oh yeah," the scientist responded brightly, "Once you're in my sphere, you're pretty much fair game."

"I see," Ziva said while crooking her brow. "I am finally 'in your sphere?'"

"Since you're sending me flowers, cooking me dinner and kissing me, I'd say that qualifies," Abby said dryly.

"Well, I am happy to finally be here," Ziva responded softly.

Abby was disappointed that she needed to return home, but it was obvious that the woman whose lap her head was currently lying in needed rest. They had shared a great meal, some Hebrew dish that she could not pronounce but was delicious nonetheless. After that, they had sat out on the couch, where Abby had finally sprawled all over the agent while telling her stories of her childhood. The other woman had an understated way of dragging information out of her until she felt she had monopolized the conversation all night.

However, the scientist was observant enough to notice Ziva's eyelids growing heavier. She knew she had begun to feel some sort of attraction to her, but she somehow doubted that a one-night stand was what Ziva had in mind. Since she also guessed Ziva would not kick her out, she needed to excuse herself and let the agent sleep. Yet, no matter how slow Ziva seemed to want to take it, Abby did not see any problem in a little kissing before she left.

Sitting up, she straddled the slightly smaller woman. She looked into Ziva's eyes and told her mock-seriously, "I'm going to kiss you now."

The Israeli smiled and wrapped Abby up in a tight embrace, letting the other woman dictate the pace for this kiss. She found Abby's gentle aggressiveness surprising, feeling her hands roaming down her shoulders and along her sides. She caught the hands quickly as they started around to her lower back. Leaning back she whispered, "Be careful back there."

Abby showed her confusion and Ziva moved the hands slowly until Abby could feel the handle of her throwing knife, then the butt of her revolver. The Goth blinked. "Do you always wear these at home?"

"I always have this gun nearby, if not on my person," Ziva answered. "It is not my sanctioned weapon, the 9mm, but it has been with me for many years and has saved me on more than one occasion."

"The knife?" Abby prodded her to continue.

"I do not need it at home, however I am simply accustomed to its presence," the other woman answered. "It balances out the feeling at my lower back with the gun."

Abby's hands had moved back up to Ziva's shoulders and she stared into her eyes. She wondered what other secrets she would discover over time about this dangerous woman and if she might just be a little crazy to consider dating her. She watched as Ziva pulled a holster containing a gun, then a sheathed knife from behind her back and set both on the table beside them.

The Israeli smiled seductively at her. "It is safe for you to explore now, if you still desire to do so." She paused then smirked. "I am at your mercy."

"Ziva," Abby leaned in with a laugh, "that's such bull." She pecked her on the lips briefly then added. "But I like the thought, a lot. We'll have to try that one day."

A little over an hour passed and Abby found herself less enthused about leaving by the moment. Ziva was neither escalating their make-out session, nor objecting to anything the Goth did but Abby was getting seriously turned on. The Israeli followed Abby's lead and would reply in kind to any advances that the younger woman made. That's how Abby found herself breathing heavily, stretched out underneath the Mossad agent on the couch. Ziva was currently licking along the pattern of her spider web tattoo and it was about to drive Abby mad with pleasure.

Finally, Abby pushed on Ziva's shoulders separating her and looked into her eyes. The heated look of desire almost made her lose her resolve. "Unless you plan on taking me back to your bedroom, like, right now," Abby spoke in a voice about an octave lower than normal, "we have got to stop this and I need to go. Home. To a cold shower."

Ziva cleared her throat, and then gently helped the younger woman sit up. "You are right," she answered. "We should continue this another time. I did not intend to get carried away like that, yet, you have that affect on me." Standing, she indicated Abby should stay. She smiled. "I have something for you, wait a moment."

Abby watched the agent's graceful walk with heightened interest, wondering if she could change her mind and follow her into the bedroom. It was interesting to see her all mussed like this, as Abby had wrinkled her shirt and removed it from her pants. She had also messed up her hair, leaving it in wild curls. The only thing Ziva had removed on Abby was her collar, but then again, she had to admit, her clothes had a little easier access.

The older woman returned with a small, plaid gift bag and handed it to Abby. Abby bounced and kissed her on the cheek. "I love presents," she exclaimed cheerily. She peeked in and pulled out a stuffed monkey. It had long arms and legs, and it was wearing a faux-leather cape and aviator goggles. It also had the cutest goofy grin on its face. "It's adorable!"

"It is also a 'secret weapon'," Ziva added seriously. Abby blinked at her curiously so she took the monkey gently from her hands. "Give me your left hand," she directed. She hooked some well-hidden pouches on the monkeys paws over Abby's index and pinky fingers, then shaped her hand a certain way. "Grab his tail and pull it back." Abby grinned as the monkey's arms obviously had hidden elastic. "Now, aim and release," Ziva whispered into Abby's ear, eliciting a shiver.

Abby aimed at the front door across the way and let the monkey fly. She was delightedly surprised when a screaming noise erupted from the stuffed toy. She threw herself around Ziva in a hug and when she pulled back, she kissed her hard. "That is so awesome!"

The Israeli decided that every moment spent in Groton had become worth it since she had found the little toy up there. She would happily spend any amount of time in silly stores finding odd novelties if it always made Abby this happy. "I am pleased you like it." She kissed the Goth gently again, simply because the sweet lips were so near. Sighing, she separated herself. With a bittersweet smile, she stood and held her hands out for the younger woman. Pulling her to her feet, she kissed the tops of both hands. She leaned in and recited a portion of a romantic Russian poem she happened to remember right into Abby's ear.

Abby shivered and stepped closer. "Are you asking me to stay?"

Ziva shook her head, answering, "no, not yet. As tempting as that thought is, I think at least one date, yes?" She laughed when Abby pouted.

"Okay," she responded, "but you can't do this again if I we have to stop. Not everybody has nerves of steel like Israeli Mossad Officers."

Ziva had begun walking her to the front door. When they arrived, she reached down and grabbed the monkey off the floor, handing it to the younger woman. She asked, "You will be okay getting home and will call me when you get there?" At Abby's nod, she leaned forward and gave her a slow gentle kiss. "Good night then, my dark beauty." Then she opened the door.

"Night," Abby responded, hugging the little monkey to her and waving.

Abby practically skipped down the hall, which amused Ziva to see. Ziva finally shut her front door once she saw the elevator doors shut with Abby in it. Leaning back, she smiled, thoroughly happy with her return to DC.

"What the," Tony exclaimed as a screaming stuffed animal suddenly pelted him in the side of the head.

"Oh, hey!" Abby bounced up to Tony's desk, the picture of innocence. "I wondered where he got off to." She snatched the stuffed toy right out of the surprised man's hands and skipped away, surreptitiously winking at Ziva on her way by her desk.

The Israeli officer was wise enough to keep her features schooled with mild interest and no amusement. McGee on the other hand openly laughed at Tony and suffered a withering stare and a few taunting remarks. Gibbs finally stopped it after a few minutes in his usual gruff fashion.

Ziva was finishing the last of her reports and was planning to head home early. The Director had called her into her office earlier. Jenny had explained that although everybody knew it was a "clean" shot in the Parker case, Ziva had to work at her desk for a while until the Navy officially cleared her actions. The Petty Officer's lawyers were shouting about brutality because of the man's hand, knee and shattered jaw. However, with Tony as her witness and the blood spatter evidence backing her up, not to mention the original crime, she was not worried.

Jenny had suggested she take those last two vacation days she was due and just relax. The redhead knew without a doubt that if a call came in and the team had to leave Ziva behind, the Mossad officer would be unbearable. She was quite surprised when Ziva agreed; Ziva simply stated she needed to finish her reports first.

At one point Tony got up and left with Gibbs for some errand down in Abby's lab and McGee took the opportunity to walk over to the Israeli's desk. "For once, I know something about you that Tony doesn't," he said. When she did not ask what, only staring at him seriously he coughed nervously. Perhaps it was not a good idea to tease this dangerous woman.

"I happen to have seen you carrying a particular stuffed animal into your hotel room in Connecticut," he said. Her eyebrow rose marginally, so he dared to continue. "I also heard that you happened to have been there to help Abby when she needed it; quite conveniently from what I was told."

She pulled out a small knife and started slowly acting as if she was cleaning underneath her nails. "I also know you happened to have shared information with Abigail that had her unnecessarily worried for my welfare," Ziva answered calmly. "It seems like you are good at shaping out some things you shouldn't."

"Figuring out," he corrected.

"Either way you say it, you should be careful with what you know," she answered. "If you were to share this information with the wrong persons, I would be very unhappy."

"Ah," he decided she really was being too scary to tease. "I understand: no sharing." He started to move away. Changing his mind he turned back to add, "Just so you know, I think you both deserve happiness. I personally would like it if you could find it with each other. You'd make a good match I think." Then he quickly turned and practically ran back to his desk.

Ziva was running around the reflecting pool in the National Mall Park, catching up on some exercise she had been neglecting. It was a beautiful summer weekday, and the tourist crowds were thick, the Mall bustling with activity. She watched groups, families, and even individuals spending time getting their picture taking in front of this monument or that. The Museums seemed to be drawing more people as the heat of the day began to set in.

She felt her cell phone ring on her hip and she stopped and jogged in place as she answered the phone. It was the work number and she wondered why they were calling her now when they insisted she relax. "David," she said curtly.

"So you just leave without saying goodbye to me?" It was Abby and she could not read her tone of voice.

"I am sorry?" Ziva decided to go for a questioning tone as it often saved her in these situations. There was a moment of silence and she wondered if she really had irritated the young woman.

"Nah," Abby responded. "It's okay, if you had come down to the lab to say goodbye I would have kissed you."

"Kissing me is bad?" Ziva asked with a grin. She started jogging again. "I had gotten the impression last night that you enjoyed kissing me."

"And that's why I should not kiss you at work," Abby replied reasonably. "If we were to kiss like that again I might not be able to stop the next time. Imagine what would happen if Tony were to walk in as I was jumping your bones."

"Jumping my bones?" Ziva asked in genuine confusion. "I do not think I know this expression."

"Yeah, ripping your clothes off and molesting you right there," Abby explained.

"You Americans have such odd phrases," the agent said.

"I'll have to teach you a few more," the scientist said coyly, "maybe after dinner tonight?"

Ziva smiled, charmed by Abby's sudden persistence. She was quite sure Abby had hardly noticed her or the attraction that she harbored before, but once she did, she was quite eager to explore it. "I would be delighted to dine with you," she answered.

"Excellent," Abby proclaimed happily. "How about I pick you up at seven?"

Ziva was not normally inclined to give up control of her transportation, but she decided to give in this once. "This is good. What do I wear?" she asked. She turned right, heading towards the tidal basin.

"I'd love to see what else you've been wearing while stalking me," Abby said brightly.

The other woman's phrasing hit a little too close to home and made Ziva feel slightly guilty. "Abby, I'm sorry," she started to say all the reasons she had hesitated to approach the young woman but she was cut off.

"Relax," Abby laughed. "For once I like my stalker. Not to mention you saved my ass, so it was worth it. So, I'll see you at seven. Got to go, Ducky's here!"

Ziva grinned as the young woman disconnected. It would take a while to get used to that. Yet, that impulsiveness was part of the woman's charm, one of the very things that had attracted her in the first place. Abby was a beautiful enigma to Ziva and she was glad she had been granted a chance to get closer to her. She put her cell phone back in its case and refocused on her run. She needed to get home in a reasonable timeframe so she had plenty of time to choose something to wear that might be appealing to the young woman.

She wondered at the odd turn of events. Instead of her proving her case and trying to woo the young woman as she had dreamed she might have to do, Abby had arranged it all and simply told her what to do. Would she always be this off guard with this woman?

Her father would be mortified Ziva thought with a smirk. She looked at her outfit in the mirror and decided it would do nicely. She had seen variations on the style in the clubs that she had went in while trying to understand Abby. She had slowly gathered different clothing to fit in. This was the first time she wore this particular outfit, but she thought it would be fitting for a date with the younger woman. In fact, she hoped it might just shock Abby a little. It was a decidedly hot outfit for a summer night, but Ziva thought the pros outweighed the cons.

She wore tight black leather pants, tucked into knee high leather boots with a chunky heel. A short leather jacket matched, while white lace sleeves peeked out. She had left the shirt unbuttoned almost scandalously low, but the way the lace on the front of the shirt flowed would cover for any indecency. She had left her hair down, allowing her curls to flow freely, and added some makeup that accentuated her brown eyes.

She checked her weapons, making sure each gun and both knives were easy to draw. Her badge was also tucked away in an inner pocket in case anybody questioned her. She had tried to limit herself to one gun and knife but in the end could not. Yet, she could not see any telltale bulges, so she thought she had done well. She just hoped Abby understood the necessity. Thinking of why she might not understand made Ziva wonder again if it was fair to bring the innocent young woman into her world. She did not delude herself and think she had escaped her past or her role for her country if called upon to use her skills. She had just stacked her deck ridiculously in her favor that Mossad would most likely leave her as a very last resort.

Her doorbell rang, so with a slightly nervous smile she answered it. Her heart skipped a beat upon seeing her date. Abby was dressed in a uniquely cut black and red dress. It was cut ankle length in the back and on the sides, but knee high in the front. She had on knee-high leather stilettos, which fit perfectly with the dress's length. The dress was also form fitting and cut very low, just barely restraining Abby's breasts. Thin straps came up to crisscross in several places, but they seemed more for decoration than support. There was a hint of a hidden tattoo on the inside of the young woman's left breast.

Ziva immediately snapped her eyes away from that sight, looking into Abby's twinkling eyes. "You look beautiful," Ziva said softly as she stepped aside and let her past.

"And you, look gorgeous," Abby complimented in return. She leaned in and gave Ziva a gentle peck on the lips. "I would have never imagined you wearing this." Abby reached out and playfully touched the lace in the front near where the open buttons created a V.

"In truth," Ziva responded, "I have learned over the years how to wear just about anything in order to blend in while watching a subject. This was the first time I actually wanted to blend in, wanted to be there so I could observe somebody unnoticed. You are a subject that has fascinated me greatly. " She paused and touched Abby's cheek with two fingertips gently. "But, I am pleased you approve."

"Hell babe," Abby giggled, "I more than approve. You look hot in leather."

"It is very warm, I will admit," Ziva said, purposely misconstruing Abby's words.

"I mean you look sexy," Abby responded, then noticed a twinkle in Ziva's eyes. "You knew what I meant, didn't you?" When Ziva simply smirked, Abby shook her finger at her. "I'll remember that." Grabbing the other woman's hand, she started pulling. "Come on, I have reservations for us. And you look perfect for this place."

Ziva had flatly refused to ride in Abby's hearse and Abby was equally stubborn about allowing Ziva to drive, having heard the horror stories from all of the guys, so they compromised. Abby was amused as she zoomed around DC in the, in her opinion, comically small MINI Cooper. Ziva smiled at her as Abby babbled about the unique gauges and the layout of the car.

"You know," Abby commented at one point, "if I had this little beast, I might just be inclined to drive around DC like a madwoman too." Throwing the car into high gear and accelerating to avoid a red light on Connecticut Avenue, Abby hooted and Ziva just laughed.

They had already crossed into Maryland before Abby pulled off into a neighborhood Ziva had never been to before. She parked the car, impressing Ziva with her parallel parking abilities. Abby just laughed when she told her so. The Israeli got out of the car and waited for Abby, who immediately tucked her hand through the older woman's arm.

"Do you not get concerned that two women together will draw negative attention?" Ziva asked.

"Hey, Goths sometimes get killed just for how they dress," Abby answered. "Adding my bisexuality into the equation really isn't tipping the scale. I get noticed no matter where I go."

Ziva nodded seriously. "I have spent most of my life doing my best to avoid being noticed. It is different for me to be this noticeable," she said softly.

Abby hummed, thinking. "I guess I never thought of it that way." She turned the agent to a restaurants door and before she could open it, Ziva did the honors. Abby was charmed by it. "Toda, motek," she said softly. The surprised and pleased expression on Ziva's face was worth every minute she had spent trying to memorize some basic Hebrew phrases. She returned her hand to its place on the other woman's arm even as she walked forward and gave the hostess her name. The hostess looked down and smiled, grabbing two menus and asking them to follow her.

Ziva followed the two women through the dim restaurant; surreptitiously she studied the crowd as they traveled to their table. She saw why Abby was comfortable here; there were numerous tables filled with punks and Goths. However, there were also some tables filled with ordinary looking people, not to mention a rowdy looking group of drag queens occupying a table in a corner laughing and toasting.

They were taken to a table that reminded her of times in Saudi Arabia. It had drapes separating it from the tables on each side of it and thin gossamer fabric hung in the front restrained to posts gave it an illusion that you could hide away from the rest of the world.

"I called ahead and asked," Abby suddenly spoke, bringing Ziva out of her inspection. "There are a few things on the menu that qualify as kosher. They said something about separate stoves for the kosher stuff whatever that means."

Ziva smiled, charmed by the younger woman's efforts. There was much more to it than that, but Abby had gone to the effort, and she would not belittle that. "Thank you," she said simply. She was however surprised to find a tiny paragraph written in Hebrew on the last page explaining the restaurants desire to honor all of their clients and what they did to achieve that. She decided she should stop underestimating Abby.

"Hey," Abby answered, "I don't profess to understand at all, but I respect it." She grinned that adorable smirk that attracted the other woman so much. "But, I can't abide by never having shrimp again, being a true Louisiana girl, so you'll have to forgive me if I ever order them in front of you."

"I do not live entirely Kashrut, or kosher as you've heard it described," Ziva told the Goth. "I will certainly do so in my own home, but it is too difficult to accomplish in the rest of the world and blend in. There have been many times in my life I have had to hide my faith as part of a mission."

The server arrived to take their order, taking their menus away and leaving them alone to talk. Abby held her hand out across the table and Ziva crooked a brow and smirked but gave her hand to the other woman. The server returned with their drinks and surprised Ziva by dropping the table's gossamer drapes, giving them an illusion of privacy. Abby just grinned cheekily and raised her glass.

"What can you tell me about those times?" she asked the older woman.

Ziva sighed. "It is best you know very little, mi amor," she answered. "I had grave doubts about allowing myself to get close to you anyway. I could be dangerous for you."

Abby pursed her lips then spoke again. "Can you tell me about some of the countries you've seen then? Remember, not all of us get to travel the world like you have."

"This, I can do," Ziva said gently, rubbing the other woman's fingers with her thumb where they sat in her palm. "What country would you like to know about?"

Abby bounced a little. "Well, where have you been? And don't leave out any country you've ever set foot in."

"This could take a while," Ziva snorted, secretly pleased at the other woman's gentle interrogation. It was something she could share and if it made Abby smile, all the better. She would sit here all night if needed, as long as Abby wanted. "You will stop me if you get bored, yes?"

Abby snickered, "Yeah right, you could be boring. And I could be Director. Get to talking David." She leaned forward, put her head in her free hand, and gave the other woman her complete attention, fascinated by the sparkle in the deep brown eyes. How had she missed the way Ziva was looking at her right now? Well, even though she had missed it before, she could see it now, and she planned to see where it went.

After the meal was through, and Ziva had spoken about Italy, Spain and France, Abby took Ziva to a club somewhat near Logan Circle. It was crowded and the music was loud but not Abby's typical punk fare. The music was more like what she would hear in a Tel Aviv dance club. However, there was a mixed crowd out on the floor that made Ziva understand the young woman's choice. She saw straight people, certainly as a majority, but she also saw gay men and at least one lesbian couple dancing on the large dance floor.

Smirking and pulling Ziva along excitedly, Abby made her way through the crowd to the bar. Before the young woman could order anything Ziva put her arms around her from behind and whispered into her ear.

"Do you think we could have a dance or two before drinks? I would like to have an excuse to get closer to you again," Ziva purred and was rewarded by Abby's shiver. The young woman turned back and just nodded, a devilish grin further exciting the Israeli.

This time Ziva led Abby. She made a way for them to the dance floor, the crowd seeming to part magically for her. Abby wondered if Ziva had some trick or if people just viscerally and instinctively felt a bit of danger. It was amazing and fun though, and she watched in wonder as Ziva began to dance for her. The woman could move her body in ways she had not really guessed of her. Well, she had not spent much time considering how Ziva would dance, but still. And just as suddenly, Ziva had pulled their bodies together and was causing her to move just as fluidly to the rhythm the DJ was spinning. The crowd seemed to fade out for her, and time slipped away unnaturally as the Israeli commanded her on the dance floor, moving their bodies together in a way that promised many sensual delights.

Abby did eventually get Ziva off the dance floor long enough to get a drink, but she was brought right back out there. Ziva seemed freer here than she had ever seen her before.

"You aren't being all paranoid, and spy-like like you usually are," Abby commented when they got back out on the floor.

"I am still watching and wary," Ziva answered, close to Abby's ear. "I would give my life to protect you. Yet, I think we would both enjoy it better to live life in the meantime, yes?" Saying this she leaned in and nipped her earlobe, licking away the small bite. It amused her when she felt Abby's fingers dig into her biceps.

"Careful you don't start something you can't finish there, David," Abby groaned.

"I always finish what I start," Ziva purred in response.

Abby's answer to that was to pull Ziva down into a scorching kiss. "That's good to know." She pushed her hands up under the other woman's jacket in an attempt to get more flirtatious and found some of Ziva's hidden weaponry. Pulling back, she looked into her eyes. "I take it back," Abby said with a smirk. "You're just as spyish as usual."

It amused Ziva greatly to listen to Abby's excited story about a dog she had while growing up down in Louisiana. The young scientist conveyed her thoughts with sweeping gestures of her free hand and when necessary, she dragged Ziva's arm along with her own when she needed to use the one currently threaded through the agent's arm.

They had stayed at the bar Abby had taken them to until nearly closing time, and now returned to Ziva's apartment. Abby had asked if she could come up and batted her eyelashes prettily in an effort to sway the older woman. She had no idea that she did not even have to go that far. Ziva was happy to continue their evening as long as Abby wanted.

The agent steered Abby slightly past the door and unlocked it cautiously out of habit. Abby's eyebrow rose in question and Ziva just shrugged lightly, ignored the implied question, knowing Abby was smart enough to figure out the maneuver if she wanted. She let the younger woman in ahead of her and turned to lock up and set her keys down on a nearby table. However, Abby's questioning look once again brought home the fact that they were from entirely differently realms of experience, and Ziva found herself once again trailing down the line of thought that maybe it was not an entirely good idea to expose the innocent woman to her type of life.

Therefore, it caught her off guard when Abby grabbed the front of her leather jacket and pushed her up against the wall next to the front door. Abby leaned against her fully and kissed her quite thoroughly. Ziva wrapped her arms around the younger woman and let her hands trail up the great expanse of back that the dress purposefully left bare. She knew there was a very large cross tattoo back there, from very recent observation and she had been resisting running her fingertips along it all night. The cross was partially hidden, its base continuing down along the scientist's spine, diving into the dress and disappearing. Ziva's spatial sense and imagination caused her to estimate how far it went down and she found herself fantasizing multiple times about kissing down the full length of it.

Dragging her fingernails delicately over the pale skin, she felt another delicate shudder. Abby pulled back from their kiss, then kissed along Ziva's jaw and onto her neck, before finally sucking on the tan skin there, causing the agent to groan in pleasure. Ziva felt Abby's hands exploring along the front of her shirt, slipping under her jacket as if to remove it. Pushing away from the wall, she allowed the tall woman to remove the tight leather jacket. As it moved down her arms, she set it aside and out of the way. Looking up she saw consternation in the other woman's eyes.

"Yeah, uh," Abby said delicately, "I don't know what to do with these." She ran a fingertip lightly over the holster that contained two lightweight 9mm guns in a cross draw setup. "Or anything else deadly you might be wearing." Abby smirked lightly.

Ziva pushed the two of them further into her apartment, leading the other woman into the living room in front of the couch. She silently showed the young woman which straps to loosen. Once they were loose, the whole holster slipped off as one piece. As Abby started to push it off like she had the jacket, Ziva warned while pointing at the table next to them, "Just set them down slowly."

Abby bit her lip as she nervously handled the guns. She had known dating Ziva would be a new experience. She had never dated a Jew, or a foreigner, let alone a super-spy type person. She had dated people who carried guns as part of their jobs, but Ziva seemed to carry weapons as part of her existence, almost like they were as essential as air. She knew very little about why, only that Ziva said it made her nervous that she may put Abby's life in danger. Was life truly that dangerous for Ziva? Then her thoughts scattered as Ziva trailed her fingertips softly along the edge of her neck, then collarbone.

The Goth responded by moving up against Ziva again, placing her hands, palms flat on Ziva's chest above her breasts. Ziva wrapped her arms around Abby again; this time she ran her hands all the way down the young woman's back, stopping just short of caressing the other woman's ass as she wanted to do. Abby ran her hands slowly up and into the brunette's hair then pulled her into a forceful kiss. When she broke away for air, she nipped the agent's lip and then smirked as Ziva muttered something in some foreign language.

"What was that?" Abby asked.

"You are making it hard for me to behave properly," Ziva told her.

Abby smirked. "Good," she answered. She ran her fingernails back down along the edge of Ziva's neck, happy to watch the woman react. The Israeli hissed lightly, leaning her head back briefly, then letting it fall back to stare fiercely at Abby.

Discarding all attempts at propriety Ziva moved one arm up and around Abby's back to hold her so close they could feel each other's heartbeats. She stepped into her so that her hip pressed firmly against the taller woman's center, trapping Abby's arms in between their bodies and used her now free hand to grab Abby's chin. Turning the younger woman's head and leaning forward she growled softly into her ear, "Rak Ratziti le-hagid, Ani Ohev Otach, Abby."

Breathing deeply of the other woman's intoxicating scent she switched back to English. "I need you to know, this is very serious to me. I do not enter into relationships easily. I do not date. You, how do you say, stole my heart without my noticing." She leaned forward and kissed the milky neck in front of her. "If you are not serious about this, let me know before this gets any deeper for me." She could not bear to look into the Goth's eye in case there was rejection there, so she continued to hold her close, just feeling every breath and heartbeat.

Abby shuddered, slightly off balance and totally turned on. "I don't do things halfway either, Ziva. I can't give any guarantees though," she answered. "I don't know a lot about you, but the most important things to me are that you're a good person and you treat me with respect." She laughed. "Of course it doesn't hurt that you happen to be deadly sexy."

Ziva felt a wave of relief, then a rush of passion. No longer restraining herself, she trailed her mouth along Abby's neck, using her teeth and tongue to good effect. Abby tried to free her arms and Ziva instead lowered her hand and caught both of the young woman's hands in her free one. She kissed her way along the Goth's jaw line and up onto lips painted black earlier but were becoming more flesh toned by the minute. She plundered Abby's mouth with lips, tongue and teeth until the woman was whimpering with desire. Pulling back, she looked into the younger woman's eyes, thrilled to see a passion dazed look.

"I want you, Abigail Sciuto," Ziva announced in a deep voice, her accent surprisingly thicker than normal.

"Oh my god, Ziva," Abby whispered. "I'm all yours. Now please, take me." She said with a hint of impatience.

Ziva stepped back, took both of the other woman's hands and brought them to her lips, placing a small kiss atop each one, never breaking eye contact with Abby. She reached back, grabbing her guns with her left hand and drawing Abby with her with the right, leading her back to the bedroom. She deposited the weapons on a nearby bedside table, and reached around to her lower back removing her knives to do the same.

"Okay," Abby giggled, "how many more?"

"No more," Ziva answered seriously, "tonight." Leaning in, she kissed Abby again, hoping to distract her away from the thoughts of the weapons, not particularly concerned about them herself. She ran her hands down Abby's back and along her sides, memorizing the reactions every touch elicited. Kissing down her neck again, she continued further down this time, planting gentle kisses over the tops of the heaving breasts in front of her. Through Abby's dress, she kissed along the outer edge of her left breast and continued down, bringing her hands to the younger woman's hips to steady herself as well as hold Abby still. Slowly Ziva knelt down in front of the Goth. She kissed and nipped Abby through the tight dress all the way to her navel, then made a path down towards her center, veering away at the last moment, and slowly laying her lips over a spot just inside of her hip.

At the same time, she reached down and unzipped first one tall leather boot, and then the other, helping Abby out of each. After that, she smoothed her hands over the Goth's pale legs, starting at her ankles, following up a path along the back of her calves.

She felt where Abby had grabbed her shoulders as she stepped out of her boots and now gripped them tightly. She allowed her hands to continue up under the skirt of the dress to caress smooth thighs and tease along the young woman's ass.

Suddenly, Abby gripped her hair, not painfully, but she pulled her head back nonetheless. Ziva slowly brought her fingernails down very softly, teasing the skin of the young woman's legs as she removed her hands and stood. As soon as she was upright, Abby grabbed her head with one hand and her ass with another then pulled her into a tight embrace, kissing her passionately again.

Abby took Ziva off guard when she suddenly turned her. The scientist sat down on the edge of the bed, examined the agent's boots and frowned. "Those are very sexy, but please don't tell me I have to unlace them." Ziva laughed and started to lean towards a knife to cut the laces off. Abby caught her intent and slapped her hand in mid-air. "Don't you dare!" She pulled the agent towards her and began unlacing. When she leaned forward to remove the first boot, she rubbed her cheek along Ziva's leather-clad crotch and elicited a deep groan. When the other was successfully off, she reached forward for the laces at Ziva's crotch, but the Israeli trapped both her hands.

Ziva drew Abby back up and turned her slowly away from her. She unclipped the little clip that kept the small straps of the Goth's dress together in a delicate design along the top of Abby's back and grinned, as the sides of the dress seemed to lose cohesion. Running her fingertips gently down Abby's back, she traced the large cross, as she had wanted to all night, down to where it met the short zipper that was the dresses final support. Unzipping that, she moved her hands inside the dress at Abby's sides. She leaned forward kissing along the taller woman's shoulder up to her neck slowly, unsurprised when she felt hands thread into her hair. She moved her hands up slowly, reaching inside to caress the edge of the other woman's breasts. Abby leaned back against her, and groaned. She ran the flat of her palms very carefully over the soft breasts, feeling nipples harden and Abby strain towards her hands, then back down to a flat abdomen, ignoring the whimper from the woman in front of her.

"Put your hands down, meines süßes," Ziva told her. When Abby obeyed, Ziva pushed the top of her dress off easily, letting it just fall forward, not attempting to remove it. Instead, she just continued to let her hands ever so softly roam the beautiful landscape before her.

Abby spun around and kissed the Israeli passionately. She grabbed the lacy shirt, quickly finding hidden buttons, pushing and pulling the offending garment off. Once she got it off, she noticed the large bandage covering the recent cut, its stains freshly red. "God, Ziva," she exclaimed, grabbing the wrist below it.

Ziva twisted the very same hand and pulled Abby forward into another of their fiery kisses. When she was done, she spoke softly. "Ignore it. It is nothing," she said while leaning down and nipping a tender earlobe.

Abby groaned and totally forgot about her distraction, bringing her hands back up to work on removing a lacy little white bra that looked wonderful against Ziva's tanned skin. When that final barrier dropped between their upper bodies, she stepped forward experiencing how warm and wonderful the other woman felt against her. She could not help herself, and leaned in to bite and suck on the other woman's neck. She moaned when she felt Ziva pushing her dress the rest of the way off, leaving her in nothing but a small black thong.

Ziva pulled her firmly against her, using her hands on the younger woman's hips to assure that they joined tightly. Abby remembered quickly that not only did Ziva still have pants on, but also they had laces up the front. She rolled her head back as the feeling shot through her, and the older woman immediately took advantage by licking and nibbling her way down the front of her neck. Abby felt a strong arm wrap around her lower back, while Ziva's other hand traced an exhilarating path behind her thigh. Finally, Ziva lifted Abby's leg and wrapped it around her hip.

Abby buried her hands in the mounds of curly brown hair and pulled Ziva in for an enthusiastic kiss, even as she felt Ziva begin to slowly grind against her in a perfect teasing circle, the laces of her pants a delicious torture. This continued for several minutes until Abby tossed her head back and cried out.

Ziva pulled Abby's leg the rest of the way around her body, then switched her arms so the injured left arm was supporting Abby's back and her right arm reached under the young woman, suddenly lifting her. Abby squeaked and threw her arms around Ziva's shoulders even as Ziva moved quickly forward onto the bed on her knees, kneeling in the center with Abby in her lap.

"I have watched you and wanted you so long, my dark angel," Ziva spoke in her native tongue and leaned forward, pushing Abby back, so she could kiss her way down the pale chest before her. "I have dreamed of you, desired you, loved you," she said punctuating each phrase with a kiss along the inside of Abby's breasts. "None of it compares to the reality. You have made me feel, Abby. You alone have done this to me," she finished then took a nipple into her mouth and slowly loved it, holding the breast in her hand.

"God, Ziva, I hope sometime I get the English version of that," Abby muttered, while holding the Israeli's head to her chest. She would have never figured Ziva for the verbal type, but then again, she had no idea what Ziva was saying. On one hand, it rather turned her on, but on the other, she was really curious and frustrated. However, all those thoughts scattered as the agent finished laying her across the bed and settled her body over her.

Ziva became quite intoxicated by the delightful sounds Abby made as she loved her breasts. She settled squarely between the young woman's legs, rubbing Abby's wet panties with the flat portion of her stomach just above her crotch. The older woman happily spent a considerable amount of time moving back and forth to each breast until Abby was practically writhing beneath her.

Abby wrapped her legs around Ziva's lower back and used the advantage to move against the Israeli. She groaned as Ziva pushed into her deeply, dragging all the way through to the edge of her leather pants. The agent had left her breasts by now and was currently biting the side of her neck in a very pleasurable manner. After that, she trailed up for another scorching kiss.

"Ani Ohev Otach," she said urgently before she moved back down Abby's body, licking and nipping as she went.

"You've said that before," Abby commented, her fingers digging into Ziva's shoulders.

The agent looked back up into Abby's eyes from where she had been sucking on the taller woman's abdomen next to her navel. "And I am sincere," she said gravely. She moved further down before Abby could ask any questions and kissed the junction of her leg next to her center. She caressed Abby's legs, from the inside of her knees up her inner thigh, only veering at the last second to avoid touching anything particularly sensitive.

Abby's response to this was to growl and thrust her center up and towards Ziva's hands. "Please, Ziva," she whispered.

Ziva was happy to move things along for Abby, removing the young woman's underwear efficiently and discarding them without a glance as to their destination. Lying down, she directed the other woman's legs over her shoulders. She trailed little teasing kisses along the inside of Abby's thighs and all around her center until she felt the other woman grabbing her hair in an effort to move her where she wanted. Ziva smiled, and moved closer, gently licking over just the outside of Abby's lips, tasting the moisture that had escaped and groaning in pleasure. She trailed her hands along the younger woman's lower body, caressing up to her breasts, touching them gently, then moving back down to tease her stomach and sides again.

Simultaneously, she licked and kissed up one lip and down the other, reveling in the tastes and texture, delighting in Abby's reactions. Finally, she pushed her tongue between Abby's lips and deep inside of her, thrilled as the other woman cried out and pushed against her. She let the other woman set the rhythm for a little while but then left off to tease a neglected clit.

Abby panted as Ziva spent a very long time moving between building her up to the edge of orgasm then veering off into something different. She thought she was going to hyperventilate if Ziva kept this up. After what Abby was sure was days, as Abby felt herself nearing the edge again, Ziva inserted first one finger then quickly another while still loving on her clit. Abby cried out as Ziva established a good rhythm with her mouth and hand. The other woman then curled her fingers up finding that place that made Abby want to scream. Before she knew it, she actually was screaming and Ziva's face was no longer between her legs, but instead the woman had moved up to blanket her, holding her tight.

Abby grabbed Ziva and kissed her hard, moaning as she felt the other woman begin to thrust in and out of her again, using her body against her hand for added strength. The Israeli was relentless in her pursuit to please Abby and the Goth was almost dizzy by the time Ziva was done with her several orgasms later. The younger woman clutched onto the agent in a bear hug, feeling silly as tears leaked from her eyes.

"What's wrong," Ziva asked, distraught.

"Nothing's wrong. You're perfect, you silly secret agent," she whispered. Abby kissed Ziva on the cheek and buried her head in Ziva's neck. "Just hold me a minute, okay?"

Ziva flipped them both over so she was on the bottom and drew Abby in close. She deposited a gentle kiss on Abby's forehead, and petted her gently, trailing the fingertips of one hand along her back. She felt Abby tracing a scar near her collarbone, evidently something in her field of vision that interested her. Ziva smirked, thinking that it was probably not possible to take the curiosity out of the young scientist.

It was not long before those fingers started tracing a path down her chest, exploring more fully. Then Abby commented, in a very casual voice, "You're still in pants."

"Yes," Ziva answered, drawing out the word. "And I think you will have to, how is it you say, 'peel them off' me. They may be permanently attached now."

Abby looked up and smirked. "I do love a challenge."

Hours later, they lay spent in each other's arms enjoying a comfortable silence and the pleasant afterglow of their marathon lovemaking. Once again, Abby was tracing scars she found in the dim light. Dawn was literally minutes away and enough light spilled past the edge of the curtains and from the light that they never turned off in the living room so that Abby could explore to her heart's content.

"How'd you get this one?" she asked while gently tracing a thin line near the top of the agent's stomach.

"I," Ziva hesitated, trying to figure out what to say. She could not possibly talk about the assignment. What could she tell her? "I got hurt during an assignment."

"What kind of assignment?" Abby asked innocently.

Ziva sighed. "One I can't discuss," she answered. "I am sorry. I can say it is a knife wound."

Abby blinked, digesting the information, both the type of wound and the secrecy. "I guess I will have to get used to some things," she said softly. Ziva touched her chin drawing her up to look into her eyes.

"I would give you every detail of every moment of my life if I could," she said, "but too much is classified. It would get you or me or both of us killed if I started sharing. Trust me." She leaned down and deposited a gentle kiss on soft lips. "I will give to you every detail I can, every detail that is safe."

"Alright," Abby said softly. "But you can tell me what kind of wound if I ask?"

"I see no danger there," Ziva answered.

"Then what is this one," the younger woman asked while touching an indented area on the older woman's right breast.

Ziva smirked. "You start with hard ones, yes?" She muttered something in Hebrew.

"No fair, with the Hebrew, David," Abby said playfully while pinching Ziva's side, delighted when she laughed and squirmed away. "And don't think I've forgotten your penchant for saying serious things in a language I can't understand during sex. Either you start interpreting, or I'm going to start memorizing and go to a local Rabbi."

Ziva laughed delightedly. "Yes, yes," she said. "I will try harder to interpret if you just ask."

"So back to the scar," Abby said.

"Gunshot wound," Ziva said simply and shrugged. Abby sat up on her elbows and looked at her with wide eyes. "What?" Abby still said nothing, only stared at her. "It was a long time ago." Ziva said, a slight questioning tone, hoping that would make it better for Abby.

"How many times have you nearly died?" Abby asked on a whisper.

"I," Ziva nearly answered abruptly and honestly, but for once saw how this might affect the younger woman in her arms. "It has happened less through the years. I am one of the best at what I do now, and recently I have essentially done the most somebody like me can do to retire without going into hiding." She held the other woman's cheek in her hand. "I have much to live for here."

"You avoided the question," Abby accused.

"It is a, as you Americans say, 'occupational hazard,'" Ziva smirked. Abby pouted and Ziva felt herself beginning to give in. "You have me in a barrel here."

"Over a barrel," Abby corrected automatically, not realizing she would just throw Ziva off course.

"What?" Ziva smirked. "That sounds kinky. Do Americans always think about sex?" Abby laughed her face lighting up. "I love when you laugh. Your lovely eyes sparkle when you laugh. You are so beautiful." Abby blushed and hid her face behind her loosened hair. "Ah, I see a good reason for you to wear your hair up: so you may not hide behind it."

"You know, most people would see you as the beautiful one," Abby pointed out, ignoring Ziva's last comment.

"Most people do not know me," Ziva said seriously. She grinned sardonically. "If they did, they would not think such things. And if more people were to see you as I have, I would have to kill many people." Abby blinked. "I would not want, for example, Tony to know that on your ass you have a sweet tattoo of a," a hand was suddenly clamped over her mouth.

"Okay," Abby said. "I get it." She leaned forward, replaced her hand with her mouth, and gave Ziva an enthusiastic kiss. Just then, her stomach decided to let out a tremendous growl.

"Food, and then perhaps a nap?" Ziva asked, smiling.

Abby nodded. Ziva extricated herself, stood and moved to her closet. Abby casually watched her move, enjoying the deadly grace with which she moved. She found herself flushing as she watched the agent's body quite lustfully.

"If you continue to look at me like that, I will not be able to concentrate on cooking for you," Ziva said with a hint of a laugh.

"You're going to cook? Like real food?" Abby said, sitting up quickly on the bed.

"Of course," Ziva answered, blinking. She handed the younger woman a robe, then donned one herself. She held out her hand to help the young woman up then held the robe open for her. "Do you like omelet? No cheese though."

"No cheese?" she wrinkled her nose. "Yeah, as long as you have some mushrooms. Are mushrooms kosher?"

Ziva simply smiled.

"I simply do not understand how you managed to rip these stitches out, Ziva," Dr. Mallard said fussily at the agent who sat impatiently on his table. He was more accustomed to dead bodies in his domain, but always happy to help his team when possible. Of course, usually it meant they had injuries from the line of duty. "This simply will not heal as nicely anymore. It might even be better for you to see a plastic surgeon at this point." Abby paced back and forth in the background of his lab and he lifted an eyebrow at her behavior.

"I will schedule an appointment," Ziva answered politely. She watched Abby's agitation with amusement.

"I think I can get away with replacing only a few of these and using butterfly strips if you are going to see somebody quickly. It would be better that way," Ducky looked up at her for permission only to follow her line of sight back to Abby. He looked back to Ziva, finding her looking at him now.

"That would be fine, Ducky," the agent told him seriously.

Ziva went back to watching Abby. Finally after several minutes of ignoring Ducky's work and studying Abby's agitation she called out, "Abby!"

"What," the young woman complained and turned to face Ziva with her arms crossed over her chest.

"I am fine, I have had much worse," she tried to calm the young woman's worries.

"That is not the point," Abby ground out "And if you were fine, you wouldn't be bleeding all over Ducky's lab."

The Medical examiner wondered why he felt he was in the middle of a lover's quarrel. Of course, he knew little of Ziva's personal life, but Abby was usually good about sharing happy events with him. He really had not realized these two women were that close of friends.

"I would hardly say I am bleeding all over his lab," Ziva answered.

"You shouldn't have been lifting," Abby started to blurt out what ripped out the stitches earlier that afternoon, and then thought better of it, "heavy things so early after getting hurt."

Ziva smirked, seeing Abby's discomfort and decided to tease her. "But you wanted me to lift that for you."

"Officer David, I must agree with Abigail that you should take it easy with your arm for a while," he said seriously. "While using it will keep those muscles healing, but you cannot strain it by lifting heavy objects." He did not see the face Abby made at him behind his back when he spoke of heavy objects. Ziva had to fight not to show her amusement.

"If you are careful, the worst of the laceration should be healed in about a month." He finished by applying a new bandage over his handiwork. He turned back to his pacing colleague. "And perhaps you should get one of the boys to move things about for you for a while. I'm sure they would be happy to take Ziva's place."

He really did not understand why Abby blushed and Ziva laughed softly behind him. He decided this was one of those situations where it might be better not to know.

Ziva's eyes popped open as she awoke instantly alert. She filtered out the noises that the woman in her arms made in her sleep, wondering what had disturbed her. Sometimes a simple dream would wake her; sometimes there were noises at the street level that drug her out of slumber. A creak of a floorboard in her living room sent her into a heightened state of awareness. This was not a false alarm.

After all this time in her apartment, she could avoid each creaky floorboard blindfolded if necessary, but a person who had not spent much time here could not. It was one reason she liked the brownstone. Another noise helped her identify that her intruder was still near the front door, probably angry at the old wooden floor at this point.

She brought her hand up and clamped it over Abby's mouth tightly, knowing the young woman would likely be angry but it could not be helped. As soon as she felt the other woman squirm and begin to protest she whispered directly into her ear, as close as she could get. "There is danger. Be silent. Get on the floor on the other side of the bed as quietly as you can. Get under it if you can. There is a gun in the bedsprings if you need. Stay here and hidden until I come back."

Ziva then rolled the other way, grabbing her favorite gun and knife from the headboard as she moved. Stepping off the bed silently, she negotiated her way to her bedroom door, listening as she moved. She squatted next to the frame of her door, quickly peeking back to confirm that Abby was indeed off the bed. She was impressed that the young woman had made little noise, only that which easily could be interpreted as normal nocturnal noises. Turning back, she concentrated on the room in front of her.

She could not see anybody ahead where she expected a body to be. Then she heard a sound around the corner, much closer than she estimated. She quickly dove out the door and slashed at the intruder's legs with her knife as she rolled. Bouncing up she was beside a tall man. Before he could turn his gun her direction, she had hit his arm with enough force to knock the weapon out of his hand but not before a silenced shot had been discharged. She kicked the gun under her couch as it hit the floor, following around with a stomping kick towards his left knee.

He was already out of place though and had pulled a knife of his own. Her gun was kicked out of her hand before she even tried to use it, but she ignored its loss and slashed at his midsection even as he managed to backhand her hard enough that she saw stars. She successfully slashed through his unguarded abdomen, but obviously not deeply enough to fell him. He growled, slashing at her face, but she bent back out of range. Before she could change direction, he slashed quickly back the other direction, and lowered the knife some, managing to catch her left bicep and the top of her left breast in a shallow cut. Changing tactics, she fell onto her back purposely, and simultaneously threw her knife into his chest, impaling it to the hilt. She followed up quickly with a leg sweep and he fell uncontrolled into a nearby table.

She bounced up, not trusting he was truly down, jumping onto his back and capturing him in a headlock. She reached around him as he tried to move and grabbed where her knife was buried, twisting it. He screamed and cursed her in Arabic. She grabbed his hair and pulled his head back roughly.

"Who are you?" she growled at him in Arabic.

"A dead man, obviously," he answered and laughed mirthlessly before coughing again.

She twisted the knife slightly. "I can make sure you live a long time and experience great pain. Who sent you?" she shouted.

"I came to avenge my brother in arms, Ari Haswari and all Palestine people," he answered. He screamed again as she moved the knife a different direction. "I was supposed to make sure you were dead by morning. I had thought you would be occupied all night with your American girlfriend as you have the last few nights."

"Why did you need me dead by morning?" she demanded. When he fell silent again, instead of twisting the knife she brought her fist down hard on his ribs near the knife wound. He shrieked. "Answer me!"

"The US Navy and your precious NCIS will pay for collaborating with you filthy Israelis and Mossad," he said and spat blood, "Starting with the man and the team who killed Ari."

"Are the others in danger tonight?" she asked brusquely. He panted and tried to withhold from her. "You know you will tell me. Save yourself the pain."

He shook his head. She applied pressure to his neck, choking him slightly even as she dug her fingernails across where she had sliced his abdomen. He made a gurgling noise and started pleading in Arabic, so she stopped to let him speak. "They will be taken care of in the morning. We thought it better to eliminate you tonight. You see too much. Too aware."

"What else?" she said and reached for the knife again in implied threat.

"There is a bomb aboard one of the US ships," he said then passed out.

She stood, breathing deeply and shaking her head at the mess they had left. Moving over to her purse, she withdrew a pair of handcuffs and applied them to the man. It was unlikely he would wake anytime soon, but she had not survived this long by being stupid.

She headed back into the bedroom, grabbing her cell phone along the way as she moved over to the side of the bed where she had told Abby to go.

"Come out, my beauty," Ziva said softly, squatting down and holding a hand out to help the woman. "It is safe now."

Abby was crying as she came up and Ziva immediately wrapped her in a hug. Abby stepped back when she finally noticed the moisture between the two of them and she gasped when she saw Ziva's body. The Israeli had been at a decided disadvantage, fighting in the nude, and blood covered the entire left side of her torso. Only she knew that it was mostly her assailant's blood.

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God," she started crying harder. "You're hurt. How bad are you hurt?" She pushed Ziva towards the bed, intending to get her to lie down, but the agent stubbornly refused. "You need to lie down. We need an ambulance!"

"Abigail," Ziva said loudly, forcefully. She grabbed Abby's biceps. "I will be okay. I need to make some phone calls. You need to wash the blood off where I got you messy and get me some towels, please. Get dressed before you bring me the towels. We will have visitors quickly. And no ambulances yet, okay?"

Abby was trembling and Ziva felt horrible. She leaned forward, keeping space between their bodies and kissed the young woman gently. "I am sorry," she whispered. "I should have never exposed you to this. It was selfish of me to only think of my feelings." She sighed. "Go wash and dress."

The Israeli flipped open her phone and called Gibbs. "I need you at my apartment as fast as you can make it. But be careful. Check your car before you get in it."

"Ziva?" he said hazily, obviously awoken by her call.

"Yes," she answered tersely. "Gibbs, I need you here, now."

"Okay," he answered, "I'll be right there."

She dialed Jenny's number but did not hit the connect button. Gibbs did not always like her relationship with the NCIS Director, but in this case, it might be better if she were informed from the source and from the beginning. Gibbs' ego should have to bow to the safety of soldiers whose lives could be at stake. However, he had earned her respect and loyalty. She hit cancel and closed the phone.

She looked around for clothes. About that time, Abby came out of the bathroom with hand towels. She smiled wanly at the younger woman. "Thank you," she said then leaned forward and kissed her gently.

She moved to her dresser and removed an old t-shirt, brought it over to the bedside table and used her remaining knife to cut it into a long scrap. She placed the towel over the two cuts as best as she could. "Would you help me wrap this around?" Ziva asked a shell-shocked Abby.

The young woman immediately moved over and gently took over.

"Is this all? I mean are you hurt anywhere else?" Abby began talking quickly. "Because there's a lot of blood, so I'm worried you could have another cut. I should get another towel." She rushed off to the bathroom and came back with a wet washcloth. She automatically started cleaning Ziva's torso, trying to remove the worst of the blood. "We should call Gibbs. Gibbs will know what to do. Gibbs always knows what to do. I mean,"

"Abby," Ziva interrupted again, having to put her fingertips over Abby's mouth to stop her and get her attention. "I called Gibbs. He is on the way. You are right; he will know what we will have to do now." She stood and her head throbbed. "I would really like to dress before he gets here."

The Goth moved over to where Ziva's pants had last been tossed and picked them up. She found a t-shirt and underwear in the dresser. She came back over and tried to figure out how to help Ziva into the garments. She cried out when she noticed that the towel they had put on her shoulder was very red. "You're bleeding badly."

"I know," Ziva said and laughed lightly. "But I'd still like to not be nude when he comes in." She indicated the clothes. "If you will help me with these, I will be good and sit until he gets here."

Abby did as requested and Ziva kept her end of the bargain. The scientist knelt down in front of her lover and looked up at her, tears in her eyes again. She put her head down in Ziva's lap and laid her arms around where Ziva's body sat on the bed, afraid to actually hold her, but wanting to be close. She trembled, unable to control herself, realizing how close she had come to losing the woman she beginning to care about very deeply. She felt love for Ziva, even if she had not had time to figure out if it could be 'the love.' She knew she could not bare the thought of losing her as she had Kate.

"I'm sorry, my angel," Ziva said softly. "You should not have had to experience this. Perhaps it would be better if you and I did not,"

"Shut up, you stupid super spy," Abby exclaimed, hardly intelligible through her tears. "I've already started to love you, even if this is scaring the hell out of me. So don't try to get rid of me now that you've gotten me."

"Yes ma'am," Ziva answered softly. She petted the woman's head where it laid in her lap. "And so you know, 'Ani Ohev Otach' means 'I love you.' I already love you, Abigail Sciuto. I have for some time."

Once again, Abby baffled Ziva by crying harder, which was hardly the reaction she expected.

"Well, David," Gibbs complained and took a sip of his ever-present coffee. "You want to explain this one to me?"

"He is apparently connected to Hamas," she sighed and swayed slightly, then leaned against the wall behind her. "They decided I needed to be eliminated before they could get to the rest of the team tomorrow. Plus they have targeted a ship."

Abby gasped behind her because Ziva had not shared these things with her.

"How do you know this?"

Ziva lifted an eyebrow, as if insulted Gibbs even asked. "I gave him no choice but to confess," she answered. "He was very motivated to tell me the truth." She looked back at him. "I think it might be good to get him to a hospital soon. I have collapsed his lung I am sure."

Gibbs just shook his head in amazement.

"There is a cell which is going to attack NCIS tomorrow Gibbs, our team in particular. They also have planned an attack on a ship. To be precise he said there is a bomb on a ship, but he passed out before he could tell me which one," she grumbled. "I guess I am out of practice."

He looked over at a shocked looking Abby, then back at Ziva. "I told you that you would bring her into something she didn't belong in," he broke into Spanish, knowing Ziva was fluent.

"She was a target without me. They plan on killing the team because they think you killed Ari," she answered. "I protected her!"

"She is too innocent for this bloodshed. Look at her, she's not made for this," he said pointedly.

"Hey," Abby shouted, "don't talk about me like I'm not in the room. I may not understand you but I know you're talking about me."

"I am falling in love with her," Abby signed to Gibbs, "you can't control that."

"She could get killed any time, you know that?" Gibbs asked back in ASL. "She could get you killed and that scares me."

Abby looked away from him, fresh tears in her eyes. "It's my choice."

"Fine, both of you. Let's concentrate on the terrorists," he said. "Ziva, do we need to get you to a hospital?"

"I," she wanted to deny it, but Abby over-ruled her.

"Yes," Abby said firmly.

"Let me get Tony and McGee over here to start processing this scene," he said. "We'll find a way to keep this under the radar. Ziva, call the Director and let her know what is happening. She'll know the right people to get involved. We can't let them know we know what is happening."

He turned and faced Abby. "Call Ducky and Gerald and warn them. Tell them to call the police then us if they see anything suspicious."

He opened his cell phone and Ziva did the same. Abby instinctively followed Gibbs commands. When she was done with her call, she noticed that Ziva was leaning back, sweating and pale.

"Gibbs," she got his attention. "We've got to get her to a hospital. I would very much like to keep her blood in her body, you know."

"We're going to head to an on base hospital as soon as Tony or McGee gets here," Gibbs answered. "Jenny's got us a ride all arranged; and different transport arranged for our terrorist friend over there."

He looked at the man who had not yet woken and the puddle of blood underneath him. He wondered if it was not already too late for him. Looking back towards the couch, he saw the tender care that Abby was giving a tired looking Ziva. He had never seen Ziva look so pale, so weak. She leaned her face into Abby's hand and Abby leaned down and kissed her on the head. At that moment he saw what they could have together; at that moment, he saw the tender woman hidden inside of Ziva for the very first time.

He shook his head. What a weird time for that revelation.

"She slices, she dices, she's cuts terrorists in half," Tony joked as he walked into the room where Abby sat with a perturbed looking Ziva.

"Amusing DiNozzo," Ziva said flatly, even as Abby hid a smirk. "Have you found anything?"

"Wait for the Boss," he told her, "he's on the way here and I'll update you both." He looked over to Abby. "Are you okay?"

She gave him a look like he was crazy then looked over at Ziva who shrugged. "Tony," she said slowly like talking to a slow child, "I wasn't hurt. We're here for Ziva, remember?"

"Yeah," he answered, "but she takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

"See?" Ziva said to Abby. "It is always sex with Americans."

Tony looked baffled even as Abby started laughing. "I'll explain that one to your later," she told the agent.

Gibbs walked in the room shortly afterwards holding a fresh cup of coffee in each hand. He handed one across to Ziva. "I thought you could use some caffeine." Abby looked at him almost hurt. He smiled fondly and pulled a can of Caf-Pow out of his coat pocket, handing that to her.

"None for me?" Tony asked, feigning hurt. Gibbs just continued to stare at him blankly. Tony finally coughed and changed the subject. "Okay, we managed to track down his ID by his fingerprints. He was a known who had somehow gotten into the country and flown under the radar until now. Homeland Security is going to have hell explaining that one. Anyway, his name is Ali Talhemi, known to travel in both Hamas and Al-Qaeda circles."

"Have we tracked down who he is working with? Where he was staying?" Gibbs asked.

"That would be a no," Tony answered. "The Director has McGee working with an FBI agent who had written up the initial report on Talhemi. Meanwhile, our building was swept and no evidence of bombs or other weapons could be found. She had Ducky and Gerald brought in just in case. She didn't want them at home alone."

"How are you feeling?" Gibbs asked Ziva.

"I am fine," she said. She honestly had felt better, but she had also worked through worse. She knew he had also, so she did not know why he was asking. "I am ready to get to work."

"Good," he replied, "I'll get the doctor to release you. I'm going to need you with me."

Abby started to object but Ziva squeezed her hand. Abby looked at her angrily and Ziva just smiled softly at her, a pleading look in her eyes. The Goth finally stood up, moving away and crossed her arms over her chest, facing away from Gibbs and Ziva. Tony watched it all with great interest. Gibbs rolled his eyes.

"Tony," he said, "let's go find the doctor and spring our officer." When it looked like an amused Tony would resist he insisted. "Now."

Ziva stood and walked up behind Abby. She slowly put her arms around the young woman, ready to stop if there was resistance. It strained her new stitches to do this, but she would put up with a lot of pain to get through to the tall beauty before her.

"Abigail," the Mossad officer said softly, "I am well enough to help." When that did not elicit any reaction, she tried another tack. "I am the best equipped to get Gibbs the information he needs. He will need somebody who speaks Arabic by his side. You do want Gibbs safe also, yes?"

"Not fair," she announced. The taller woman slumped a little. "I just don't want you in the path of any more bullets or knives," Abby said quietly. "Can't they just let you heal some more first?"

"There could very well be an attack on a ship as early as this morning," Ziva replied. "I cannot abandon my team over some bruises and scratches."

"Some scratches," she exclaimed and turned quickly causing Ziva to wince. "What makes all you guys so macho? You bled all over your clothes, your apartment, even the car we arrived in tonight! Scratches do not do that. You may be right about Gibbs needing you, and I don't like it, but I'll back off, but you are not allowed to call these 'scratches.'"

"Of course, my love," Ziva replied, conciliatory. "Do you forgive me for being hurt?"

"What?" Abby asked, baffled.

"I think this might be what is bothering you," the agent said gently. "I am not used to having somebody care, either. I have walked through the desert to get assistance at a town four kilometers away with a bullet wound in my thigh, and I did not even get a comment in my file about it."

"Well," Abby said insulted on her behalf, "what idiots!"

"So," Ziva asked, "do you forgive me?"

Abby sighed. "There's nothing to forgive. You're just doing what you know and being you." She leaned in and kissed the Israeli's lips gently. "Just make sure you don't get any more 'scratches' or whatever any time soon. Okay?"

"I will do my best," Ziva answered with a smile.

A cough alerted them that the doctor plus Gibbs and Tony had returned. Tony was blinking, looking back and forth between the two women. He looked at Gibbs who raised an eyebrow in warning. Tony snapped his jaw shut.

"I think I'll just go call probie and see if he has any news," Tony announced and left the room.

The group had returned to NCIS where Gibbs told Abby to work on any other evidence that they had gathered at Ziva's apartment. Abby had to fight back her horror at the pictures that lay out already on a corkboard. She just was not as good as the rest of the team at acting as if it was not a big deal that Ziva got hurt, that some of the blood in the pictures was Ziva's.

She moved over to the unprocessed weapons and started with the gun the terrorist had brought with him. At least he had not gotten to shoot at her girlfriend, Abby thought. She was too good for that. Snapping on her latex gloves, she began doing what she did best: finding every scrap of evidence that she could with what her guys brought her. She was determined to help them nail these creeps fast. Then she would insist that Gibbs give her and Ziva some time off.

Abby's persistence paid off, giving the team a solid lead. She had found a partial print on the knife that did not belong to Talhemi and ran it against all databases. The name that came out of the search belonged to a man in the FBI database. Tony and McGee joined a surveillance van that Homeland Security had put in place. Jenny had Ziva and Gibbs come to the command center where they could hear the transmissions from the van.

The apartment was silent in the pre-dawn hours even though movement could be seen from street level. Finally, their patience paid off as one of the men in the apartment spoke up.

"I still think it would have been better if Ali was to report back somehow," he muttered in Arabic.

"Silence," another man growled. "Better men than you planned this. The Israeli woman had no chance against him. We must do our part now."

Back in the command center, Ziva translated for Gibbs and Jenny.

"That's enough. Send in the team," Jenny commanded. "Neutralize them. Keep them alive."

Across town, a team of Naval SWAT specialists tore into the apartment, having cleared the rest of the floor earlier. The takedown was mostly clean, with only two officers receiving minor injuries and one terrorist dying. He had been unfortunate enough to get in the line of fire of his own group.

"Bring them back, double time," Jenny commanded. The FBI agents that Jenny had allowed in the room started to argue with her about bringing the suspects to NCIS headquarters, but she silenced them. "It was my team that got attacked, my team that uncovered this and it will be my team that gets the first crack at them. You can have them when we're done."

"I'm going to call our Regional Director," one of the men complained.

"Call whomever you please," she shot back at him. "While you're busy playing games we'll be saving sailors' lives, because we still have our eye on the ball."

With that, she looked at Gibbs and Ziva clearly indicating that they were supposed to follow her. She turned on her high heel and strode purposefully from the room.

Gibbs was letting Tony interrogate the youngest suspect, Talil, the man they suspected to be easiest to break. Thus far, the agent was having no luck, the man only occasionally answering with rhetoric in Arabic. Gibbs and Ziva watched from the other side of the mirror, with her translating when needed. Thus far, none of the suspects knew she was still alive.

"Let's step this up a notch," Gibbs said. "If I turn your way, come in."

He walked over and entered the interrogation room. After the door closed, he stood just inside the entrance, simply sipping his coffee. However, his very presence angered the other man and it was obvious.

"Infidel," the man growled and spat on the floor. Gibbs acted as if he did not care.

"See, I know it bugs you that your boy Ari couldn't kill my boss here," Tony said from behind the suspect. "And your plan to kill us all is over too. So, you might as well share with the class. If you help us, maybe we can help you."

"I will not help you," he announced. "You have no reason to keep us. We have committed no crimes. You will be forced to send us back to Palestine, where we will just start again. You hold us illegally."

"You guys were pretty quick to shoot at my agents," Gibbs commented. "Not a very innocent action."

"What do you do when people break into your home in the middle of the night?" the man sneered.

"Good question," Gibbs said and then turned towards the window. When Ziva stepped in he asked her. "What do you do when people break into your house intent on killing you?"

"In America, I disable them," she answered. "In Israel, I would simply kill them."

The man started shouting at her in thick Arabic, insulting her heritage, her loyalties, and her being a Jew. She simply smiled a knowing smile. Walking across the room, she sat in front of him.

"Your friend Ali squealed like a child when I," she paused to give her words deeper meaning, "questioned him." She tilted her head. "You must know it is why we came for you." She smiled. "You will tell me what I want to know too."

"I will not. You will all fail and we will overcome the Israeli occupiers," he spat. "And the Americans will feel pain for supporting you."

"Gibbs," Ziva said, not looking at him, instead focusing only on their suspect.

"Yes," Gibbs replied.

"I spoke with my Director," she said conversationally, "he would be very interested in extradition of any of the suspects the US decides were involved in an attack on a Mossad officer."

"Really?" Gibbs asked. "Now that is interesting."

"Too bad the extradited prisoners will never make it inside an Israeli court," Ziva said.

"That is a shame," Gibbs answered. Tony watched the two of them from behind the shackled prisoner.

"See," the suspect yelled, "she admits they are murderers and you do nothing!"

"I admit nothing," the Israeli said. "The evidence always points to Hamas murdering their own in order to keep them from talking. The IDF cannot seem to get them from the Airport to prison before somebody attacks. Such a shame."

"How can you Americans turn a blind eye to this?" he demanded of Gibbs.

"Most Americans could not care less about our peoples' wars," Ziva answered for Gibbs. "Britney Spears or Paris Hilton occupies their thoughts, their news stories. What is another dead Israeli or Palestinian? Nothing. They do not care until you bring it onto their soil. Then they will chase you across the world as they did the Taliban and Al-Qaeda."

The young man was sweating, and he jumped when Tony leaned next to his ear and spoke. "She's right. I'd much rather look at Britney Spears than your ugly mug."

"I think that it would be best if you give me Talil here and his friend Azir," Ziva told Gibbs. "It is obvious he doesn't want to cooperate."

"Well," Gibbs acted as if he was thinking it over.

"We cut the head off these two snakes when they are young. The old man can rot in prison," she laughed and looked at the suspect. "He might even get parole for good behavior in twenty years. Americans are so lenient."

She stood. "There will be a Mossad office on the plane with him. There always is. They simply don't get out in Tel Aviv," she said. "But the conversations between our agents and suspects while en route to Israel are always revealing enough to keep our agents from being bored." Turning to Gibbs she said, "I will make sure you get any information they share along the way. You will not have to break any of your rules."

"There is that," Gibbs admitted. "I hate breaking rules."

"We already know from Ali to look for the bomb on a ship," she told Gibbs as she slowly walked towards the door, ignoring the prisoner. "Perhaps the old man can be convinced to reveal which ship so we won't have to keep searching them all. Or better yet, I hear Ali is just out of surgery. Perhaps I should visit him. We were having such a good conversation before he collapsed."

"He cannot tell you," Talil exclaimed, "and neither can I. It is a different cell who will take out your ship."

"Why should we believe you?" Tony asked, startling the suspect again. The young man was obviously agitated.

"Because I do not wish to be a Mossad pin cushion," he said. "I will tell you what I know, but you have to keep her and her kind away from me."

"Ziva," Gibbs told her, "you can go for now. If he gives us false intel, I'll arrange it so he's all yours."

Ziva turned back to the prisoner and gave him her best evil smile. Then she turned and left the room. She was not surprised to find Jenny outside watching.

"I had forgotten how convincing you can be," the redhead said. "Although your methods have become less lethal than when we were in the field together, for which I am grateful."

"Gibbs has been teaching me when it is not allowed," Ziva answered.

"Have you really spoken to your father?" Jenny asked without looking at her.

"Of course not," Ziva replied.

The Director just hummed in response. After a moment she looked at Ziva. "I managed to get in touch with IA. They were planning on clearing you and releasing you by the end of the week. I got them to expedite the paperwork because I need you on this case. If you are ready, that is."

Ziva just looked at Jenny and cocked an eyebrow. Jenny nodded in response and turned back to the interrogation.

Just then, Gibbs left the room. "He says the bombs are actually on private vessels that will pass a departing aircraft carrier today. He doesn't know which kind of vessels, just that there are more than one and that it's to happen today."

"That will narrow it somewhat, but it still leaves a lot," Jenny told him. She opened up her cell phone and dialed her superiors who were conducting the sweeps of the ships at port.

Gibbs got Ziva's attention. "Let's see if McGee got anything off of these guys' phones. They had to make a mistake somewhere with two of them so wet behind the ears."

Gibbs, Tony and, despite Abby's objections, Ziva were currently in a Marine helicopter heading to Norfolk as quickly as they could get there. Each wore a headset and a Kevlar vest with the letters NCIS across the chest. All ship departures and arrivals to the Naval Base had been delayed, plus the base commanders had been put on alert. The team was hoping to avoid alerting the still active cell, and did not know if there were leaks inside the base, so only the highest command staff was aware of the operation.

McGee had found enough information from two cell phones to link to two students who attended Old Dominion University. He had tracked down their address to a large shorefront home south of the base. There were plenty of places to put in boats and a satellite map showed a pier with two speedboats outside the students' residence. He had stayed behind to see what else he could dig up while the rest went to where they hoped they would capture the suspects red-handed.

Landing in a parking lot about a mile away from the suspects' home, there was a Crown Victoria and Naval officer driver waiting for them.

"Good afternoon, Sirs," the officer exclaimed over the roar of the helicopter's rotors. "We've cordoned off the neighborhood as requested. There is no activity on the pier from what we have surveyed."

The team jumped into the car, with Tony running around to hop into the front passenger side, Ziva and Gibbs in the rear.

"I thought we were clear that you weren't to approach," Gibbs shouted then closed his door.

"We have a clear line of sight from the base, sir," the officer answered. "My commander thought it prudent to make sure they did not leave via the bay, sir."

Gibbs grunted. "Do you have units ready to deploy inside with us?"

"Yes, sir," the officer answered.

"Okay, Tony, Ziva," he said getting their attention, "Head around back and secure the dock. I'll lead the assault into the house."

"Boss," Tony immediately started to object.

"Can it, Tony," he barked. "Keep those boats out of play. And you," he pointed at Ziva, "keep your blood in your body. I am not facing Abby if you get hurt again. She promised me pain if you were."

Ziva rolled her eyes, insulted, but also slightly amused. "I was similarly threatened."

The car pulled up to the curb one house away and joined a waiting team. Gibbs approached them commandingly and ascertained who was in charge of the group. Before three sentences were out, he took over and told the group what he wanted. After a quick briefing, he told Ziva and Tony to double back around the house they were at and approach from the shoreline. The other group would give the two of them three minutes to get to the docks. Ziva immediately began running and Tony cursed and tried to catch up.

As the two agents ran along the shoreline they saw two men exit the house, calmly walking towards the dock, each dressed in a traditional Muslim outfit. When Ziva saw them she put on a burst of speed. Unfortunately they also saw the NCIS officers and ran towards the docks ahead of them. The two suspects had less distance to travel and were on the docks slightly before Tony and Ziva.

One man managed to get his boat untied and started. He was pulling away from the dock quickly when Ziva jumped the distance, just making it in but having to roll in to do so. She hit hard and excruciating pain erupted from her previous injuries, but she concentrated on the suspect who had engaged the speedboat into full throttle.

Tony had managed to tackle his slightly slower suspect before he could start his boat. However, he did not feel much triumph when he saw that a timer had already been engaged on what was obviously the main portion of the bomb on board the boat. "Oh boy," he muttered. He looked off into the distance surprised at how far and fast Ziva's boat had gone. "Oh shit."

Other agents were arriving to the dock at that time and he looked over his shoulder, finding Gibbs staring at him from the group. The older man turned and looked out at the water then back at Tony accusingly.

"It's not my fault she got the faster guy," he whined, even as two enlisted men got into the boat and handled his downed suspect. "Anyway, we got bigger issues. Any bomb experts here?" He pointed at the numbers counting down and Gibbs started barking into a radio.

Meanwhile, Ziva was doing her best to stay alive so she could subdue her suspect. Unlike Tony, she had immediately seen the C4 and other explosive materials and knew her handgun was not an option. However, the other man seemed to have no hesitation whatsoever about shooting at her. She felt one bullet hit her squarely in the back on her vest and she cursed even as she rolled in the small space. That always felt like a sledgehammer hit. She jumped up and dodged as she saw him level his gun her way and fire. A bullet barely grazed by her left arm.

Feeling the thin bite of the wound and knowing it was yet another cut on the arm, she cursed. Abby would be angry. She was actually angry. She screamed at the top of her lungs and threw a solid punch into the terrorist's sternum. He was stunned enough that she knocked his gun out of his hand hard enough for it to fly overboard. She then brought her elbow to his nose, effectively dropping him. She did not know if he was unconscious, or dead, nor did she care.

She reached into her pocket for her phone, only to find it broken. She looked up and realized she was nearing the base and turned the boat back out into the bay. She throttled it down some and turned towards an area where she saw no traffic. Looking at the chronometer on the bomb, she saw it was down to two minutes and forty-five seconds. Give her a sniper rifle and she was comfortable; but defusing bombs was not something she had spent a great deal of time learning. Since the detonator was effectively rigged to explosives all over the foredeck, she knew she could not just toss it into the bay.

"If you're alive you will be going to prison," she told the unconscious man. She pulled a life vest over his head and tied it creatively. It was not even close to the right configuration, but she figured it might work. She hauled him across the deck and threw him overboard.

She turned back and found she only had thirty seconds left. It was then that she noticed that a pleasure craft had started on an intercept course ahead of her and that she would have to change direction again. She hauled hard to starboard, and at the same time pulled her gun and shot into the air. In her experience most citizens did not want to be around people who were shooting weapons; maybe they would get the hint and turn away. Checking around to make sure nothing else was near her, she grabbed a life vest for herself, throwing it overboard and jumped up onto the port rail in order to dive off.

Her timing was not exactly what she had wanted and she was not even in the water when the boat exploded at her back. The concussive wave drove her into the water at a tremendous force.

Stunned and blearily waking, she found herself already sinking and at some depth. She could barely move her limbs she felt so sluggish. She wondered why she was sinking so fast. The Kevlar vest, she thought weakly and fumbled with the Velcro. When she got it undone, she tore it over her head and discarded it, thrusting with all her might towards the surface. It seemed so far away but she fought and she eventually broke through, coughing and spluttering. She did not see the life vest, so she just grabbed the nearest piece of boat she could find that was not burning and held onto it.

Gibbs better get here soon, was her first thought. Her second was to wonder how she would endure Abby's wrath when she returned to D.C.

As she floated to consciousness, she had to bite back a groan. So much of her body was just a great big ache. However, the fact that was more disconcerting was her right arm was alternating between numb and tingling from her bicep down. She slowly flexed her hand and found that although it bit with pins and needles, it was at least functional.

Really, she knew that all the aches wasn't all that surprising considering everything she had been through lately; all in all, they weren't surprising after what she'd done in the last two days. She continued to make a fist and nearly squeaked when her stomach was pinched.

"Stop it," Abby mumbled, "I'm trying to sleep here."

Ziva looked down to where the Goth woman had her head on her chest and her body mostly over her arm over the bicep in question. Their naked bodies were pleasantly entwined, so she wasn't about to complain. Yet, she knew she needed to get her blood flowing in the arm nonetheless.

"Do you think Gibbs will forgive me for taking you away for a week?" Ziva mused. She rolled the two of them onto their sides and spooned behind Abby. "He gets cranky when you are not available."

"He'll deal with it," Abby mumbled.

"And I hardly think this is what Jenny meant by medical leave," the agent continued. She looked around the brightly colored room. The sunlight was streaming in and she could hear the waves from the nearby shore from the open window. Ordinarily she would never do such a thing, but first Abby had begged and then, Ziva had investigated and found that the resort indeed was very exclusive and should be safe.

"Who do you think got us the reservations?" Abby said softly. "Now, go to sleep you beast. You've exhausted this mere human. We aren't all practically immortal super spies."

Ziva snorted. Abby had teased her this way a lot over the last day. That was after the first two days of alternating between crying and scolding her. There were currently bruises on her chest where she had been poked repeatedly by the scientist.

"I did not realize Jenny had a hand in this," Ziva said quietly.

Sighing, Abby turned around, presenting barely open, sleepy eyes to the Israeli. Ziva thought she was absolutely adorable. "Are you trying to kill me? We've gotten like two hours sleep here, and it's insanely bright in this room."

"Ah," Ziva said, "I am sorry my little vampire. I shall be quiet. Get your rest."

"Thank you," Abby replied and leaned up to gently kissed her girlfriend.

"You will need it later," Ziva whispered after Abby turned back around. Abby stiffened and the Israeli chuckled. Abby responded by smacking Ziva's ass, which only made the older woman laugh that much harder. Eventually Abby chuckled too and when the two women were done with their mirth Ziva leaned forward and kissed behind Abby's ear. "Ani Ohev Otach, Abby," she whispered.

"Back at ya' Z," Abby mumbled and fell back to sleep.

The End

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