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"Your evidence, as requested, good sir," Abby called into the morgue, as the doors slid open.
She waited for Ducky's cheerful response, and was a bit surprised when it didn't follow.
"In here, Abs," Gibbs responded curtly instead.
She followed his voice around the slight corner in the room that offered a bit more privacy and currently hid Gibbs and whoever else was with him.
Abby sucked in a breath when she saw Ziva laying on the exam table. Gibbs, Tony and Jenny stood on one side of the table looking grim, while Ducky leaned over her from the opposite side of the table.
The specimen jars in her hands slipped through her fingers and landed on the floor with the crash of breaking glass.
Four heads jerked around sharply, and Ziva sat up. At the Israeli woman's sudden movement, Abby felt a wave a relief slide through her, leaving her shaky and weak. She slumped against the wall.
"You scared...I thought..." She gestured to Ziva on the table.
Comprehension suddenly slid over Gibbs' face and he moved around the table to take Abby's arm. She leaned against him for a moment, accepting the strength and support that he silently offered before she straightened.
No one moved to clean up the shattered specimens. Ziva tried to sit up a little straighter and winced. Ducky caught sight of her expression out of the corner of his eyes and used one gloved hand, to exert gentle pressure on Ziva's shoulders and push her back into a reclined position.
"You're in no shape to be up and about, my dear," he chastised her. "You have several broken ribs and you're very lucky that round didn't penetrate your vest."
Ziva pressed a hand to against her ribs. "It's all part of the job." She shifted a little, getting a feel for the injury. "And I have had worse." She looked up at Gibbs. "I'm fit to go back to work, Gibbs."
"Not for you to decide, Ziva," Gibbs said in a clipped voice.
"Ducky has to clear you," Jenny confirmed, patting Ziva's shoulder. "Let him do his job, Ziva."
Ziva turned her gaze from Gibbs to Jenny. "You know-"
"I do," Jenny cut her off, squeezing her shoulder again. "I do know what you're capable of when the situation demands it, but the situation isn't that bad now. So let Gibbs and the rest of the team handle it for now. You need some rest."
Abby saw the flash of frustration in Ziva's eyes, before her muscles relaxed fractionally and she dropped slightly back against the exam table without comment. She closed her eyes, and Jenny gave her shoulder one last small squeeze.
The Director started to step away and then bent over to whisper something in Ziva's ear that Abby couldn't hear from where she stood before Jenny left.
Abby stepped closer to the bed, her arms now clutched firmly around her waist. Tony wrapped an arm around her shoulders, but she barely felt the weight of his arm or the comforting warmth of it.
Ziva looked over at Ducky. "Can we wrap this up so that I can go?"
"Certainly," Ducky responded as he went to get the medical wrap for her ribs.
"Tony," Ziva spoke so softly, that he and Abby could barely hear her. Her single word was enough for Tony to know what she was asking. For once, not saying anything, Tony dropped his arm from around Abby and stepped closer to the exam table. Quietly, he helped Ziva to sit up without putting more strain on her ribs and then stepped back.
Ziva sat slightly hunched over, her head tucked down with her hair falling forward and concealing the expression on her face until they could hear her breathing grow more steady and less strained once again. She looked up at him and nodded.
He flashed her a patented Anthony DiNozzo grin. "Prego."
"Ducky is coming back to put a bandage on my ribs," Ziva stated.
"He has to take my shirt off to do that."
Tony nodded again.
"Leave, Tony," Ziva said bluntly.
"Is that the way that you thank your partner for his help," Tony teased.
"You were not that helpful," Ziva countered with a scowl.
"I caught the bad guy," Tony shot back.
"After I took the bullet that was meant for the Director."
Abby's breathing hitched painfully and the room froze for an instant.
Tony saved the moment. "Show off."
Ziva glared. "Your distraction will not work, Tony. Leave."
He laughed. "Maybe next time, Ziva," he drawled her name as he walked away.
Abby was suddenly the only one left standing by Ziva. The sitting woman held a hand out to Abby, but Abby shook her head, and folded her arms across her chest. Ziva sighed.
"I'm sorry, Abigail," Ziva said quietly. "I didn't mean to frighten you." She extended her arm a little bit more. "I wasn't hurt badly at all. I was wearing a kevlar vest. There was no real danger to anyone but the Director."
Abby wasn't reassured. If anything she seemed even angrier.
"No danger? You got shot! Your ribs are broken!"
Ziva shook her head. "I will be fine in a few days. Abby-"
"Ah, good, you're up. Once I get this bandaged, you can go, Officer David," Ducky said, bustling back over to them. "Although my dear, you really should get someone to drive you home." He looked over at Abby. "Perhaps Abigail could..." He gave Abby a warm, knowing smile before he went back to bandaging Ziva's ribs.
Abby remained silent, but when Ducky was done she waited for Ziva to get dressed again, helping her pull her shirt back over her head, and then followed her out of the morgue. She cleared her absence briefly with Gibbs before joining Ziva in the elevator.
The short ride was filled with uncomfortable silence. Ziva let it continue until Abby stopped the car in front of her door.
"Abby," she reached out for the other woman, pulling her close enough that Ziva could lean into her, resting her forehead gently against Abby's. "Tell me what's wrong."
Abby pulled away jerkily. "What's wrong? You're acting like this is nothing! Kate died wearing a damn vest, and you say this is nothing." She turned away and glared at the wall, swiping angrily at the tears that had sprung up in her eyes.
Ziva felt as if she'd been shot again. Air left her lungs in a rush. She walked up behind Abby slowly, wishing that her ribs weren't broken, so she could slip in front of Abby, but the awkward movement was beyond her at the moment.
She laid a hand on Abby's shoulder. "I'm not dead and I will do my best not to get that way." She added a little bit more pressure to her grip, trying to persuade Abby to look at her. "I...my job..." Ziva fumbled with her words. Mossad was so much a part of her that she can't imagine life without it or NCIS now. "It is dangerous, but I am not careless and I am very good at what I do." She paused and took a shallow breath to keep from expanding her lungs painfully. "And I have a very good reason to come back."
Ziva could feel the moment that Abby softened slightly. She half turned and Ziva took advantage of it to slide her arms around Abby's waist. One hand slipped under Abby's t-shirt until she could feel warm skin under her fingers. Carefully Abby lowered her head to rest on Ziva's shoulder and wrapped her arms around Ziva's neck.
Ziva simply held her, just enjoying being so close to her. After some time, Abby raised her head and met Ziva's eyes. Without thinking, she reached up to brush back the lock of curly hair that was falling into Ziva's face. Her fingers trailed down Ziva's cheek, until they were cupping her face and then she leaned forward slowly to kiss her.
She moved slowly, tasting the blend of flavors that was uniquely Ziva. She moved away, gently breaking the kiss again. There was so much that she wanted to say, but no way that she could express everything going through her mind. So she settled for saying the most important thing that she could think of.
"I love you."
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