DISCLAIMER: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
SPOILERS: Judgement Day I & II & Last Man Standing!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Standing Firm
By Jaina


Abby knew Ziva was coming home. She had known from the moment that she asked, no begged, Gibbs to bring all three of them back that Ziva would be coming home. No questions asked. No doubt at all.

But the moment that McGee had come down to her lab and told her that Ziva was in the building was something else entirely. She forgot all of the doubts and anger that she'd had, and how worried she'd been for the past one hundred and twenty-seven days. All she could think about was how excited she was to see Ziva, and how badly she'd missed her.

It felt as if it took an excruciatingly long time for Ziva to turn away from Lee and look at her. That too, disappeared when she saw the way Ziva's eyes lit up when she finally saw her. She held her arms out for a hug and Ziva flew into them.

Abby felt every inch, every centimeter of Ziva's body pressing up against hers intensely. Her skin tingled and she felt starved for even the slightest touch from Ziva. In truth, Abby hadn't expected her to hug back. Ziva allowed and tolerated hugs. She never initiated them, and if she hugged back it was only lightly in attempt to not to hurt Abby's feelings.

Only once before had she truly held Abby. This was better - more. She held on to Abby so tightly, as if she didn't ever want to let go, and Abby could have sworn that she felt Ziva's lips briefly brush the hollow of her throat. It didn't last long enough for anyone else to notice the gesture, but just her lips lingered just long enough for Abby to know it was intentional. Even that brief contact was enough to send shivers down her spine.

"I missed you very much, Abby," Ziva said, in a low voice meant for Abby's ears alone.

"I missed you too," Abby replied. She squeezed a little bit harder before she could make herself let go. She knew that McGee and Gibbs were anxious to see Ziva back too.

Standing back as first Gibbs hugged her and then McGee, Abby had to push down the part of her that wanted to push them away and grab Ziva again. It hadn't been enough contact - like giving a swallow of water to a man dying of thirst, she only wanted more.

Still by some great effort she held herself back. She couldn't stop herself from bouncing on her heels though as they completed the round of greetings.

"Good to have you back, Ziva," Gibbs said with his usual gruffness.

"It is good to be back," Ziva agreed with a brilliant smile. Her attention never left Abby as she spoke. "I'm very happy that the Director could arrange my transfer on such short notice."

"Didn't have a choice," Gibbs replied. "Abby said you had to be back within the next two weeks, and you know how upset Abs gets when she doesn't get what she wants. Had to get you back."

"Gibbs!" She protested, pouting just a little at his teasing words.

He only grinned and kissed her on the cheek. She forgave him instantly, all smiles again.

"Ziva, you got here just in time."

Ziva straightened immediately. "I'm ready to get back to work."

"Not what I meant," Gibbs said with a shake of his head. "We just wrapped up a case. Take the rest of the day to get settled back in."

"Gibbs...thank you." The emotion in her voice made it clear that her thanks were for more than the chance to get settled in.

"Don't be late tomorrow, David," Gibbs warned.

Ziva smiled, used to his gruff warnings. She hadn't been late since her first weeks at NCIS and it wasn't a mistake that she would repeat this time. She knew better now. There were several things, in fact, that she would like to do differently now that she had the chance. Time she wouldn't waste and things she would say.

"Ziva?" Abby blurted her name out in surprise as she saw the curly, brunette through the peep hole. She unlocked her door and swung it open quickly.

"What are you doing here?" The words slipped out before she could realize how unwelcoming they sounded.

"Hello." Ziva didn't seem to notice. "I hope you do not mind, that I stopped by. I wanted to talk to you - not at work," she added.

"Oh, yeah, sure," Abby agreed, holding the door open wider and stepping back. "Come on in." She was conscious of the dampness of her palms as she slid the door shut behind Ziva.

"Abby-" She paused mid-sentence as if she'd changed her mind about what she wanted to say. "I missed you very much."

Just like that her good mood deflated taking her happiness at seeing Ziva again with it. "You never even sent me one e-mail. You emailed McGee every week! You could have called! Even Tony sent me postcards," she muttered.

"I am sorry, Abby." Ziva took a step closer to her. "I couldn't talk to you as I wished, so I could not speak to you at all." She saw the stiffness that remained in Abby's posture and took another step until she could touch Abby's shoulder gently. "Please let me explain."

When Abby didn't refuse, she continued. "My father takes no chances. He keeps a very close eye on his operatives, including me. All of my communications were being monitored. Every email, or postcard or phone call."

"So you're saying you didn't want your Dad to find out about me?" The truth hurt worse than Abby had expected. Whatever she had expected, Ziva not wanting her father to know about them hadn't occurred to her. "Is it because I'm not Jewish?"

Ziva looked almost amused at that comment. It made Abby want to hit her, so she did, smacking her fist into her shoulder. Ziva was quick and caught her wrist before she could snatch it back, holding her hand against her shoulder, but gently.

"My father would not be happy about that, no, but he would be much more displeased that you are a woman."

"Oh." Abby's fingers relaxed, unclenching from the fist they had formed and curling gently around Ziva's arm.

"If it were only that you were not Jewish, it would not matter. My father and I would eventually come to some agreement, but this... It is something I can not change, and I would not want to." She took a deep breath and reached out to tilt Abby's chin up so that she was looking Ziva in the eye. "Abby I cannot tell my father about us, but that does not mean that I do not wish to be with you." She hesitated. "If you will let me."

The look on Ziva's face was so unlike her; it was also startlingly endearing to Abby in that moment. She was still upset - not angry - but hurt at the way Ziva had left. She understood better now though, why Ziva had done what she'd done.

Abby gave in to what she'd been wanting to do since she'd seen Ziva walk out of the elevator at NCIS and kissed her. It wasn't slow, languid or sweet. It was fierce, desperate and seeking. Ziva responded with intensity of her own, pulling Abby to her immediately. All she could do was marvel at the wonderful women that she held in her arms, who was willing to forgive her and accept what she could offer. It was a gift that she would struggle ever day to never waste.

When Ziva woke, the room was still shrouded in darkness. Dawn was approaching, and before long they would both have to be up for work, but not just yet. She stretched carefully, shifting her weight only a little to ease muscles held still for too long. Abby's arm was thrown across her waste and the taller woman was tucked tightly in against her side.

Some people might have found it claustrophobic. Ziva found it comforting, and now that her aching muscles had relaxed, she curled closer to Abby again. Her fingers drifted through strands of silky hair that were as dark as midnight. A smile curled over her lips. There had been a time when she'd thought that she would never again have a chance to do this, and she was so very glad that she'd been proven wrong.

Ziva couldn't resist temptation any longer. Her other hand drifted down, following Abby's curves. Her thumb brushed over the swell of a breast. Even in slumber, Abby reacted to her touch, moving into it. Ziva's smile changed to one of smug confidence. She leaned down until her lips were against Abby's ear, and whispered.

"Ani Ohevet otach, Abby."

"-that mean?" Abby's voice was muffled by her position and slurred from sleep, but Ziva still caught enough of what she had said to understand what she was asking.

"It means," Ziva said happily, "That I am very happy to be here, waking up with you."

Abby kissed her. It was a quick peck in deference to morning breath, but completely heartfelt.

"I'm happy you're here." Her arms slid around Ziva, holding her tightly. "Don't leave me like that again."

For a moment, Ziva considered her job and all of the risks that it entailed. Every day she would go out on missions that there was every chance that she would not come back from. For so long, that knowledge and all of the other obstacles that they faced had kept them apart. Now, here in Abby's bed, Ziva had no intentions of allowing anything else to keep them apart any longer.

She rested her forehead gently against Abby's, let her eyes drift shut, and made a promise she only hoped she could keep.

"I won't."

The End

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