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Slipping the dark shades from her eyes, Ziva stared up at the dazzling sky, the sun burning into her retinas and gifting her with delicious pain. Seconds later the sunglasses once again obscured the light and Ziva turned her attention to the rushing figures around her, each sporting either a white coat and stethoscope or naval whites and blues. All except one lone figure, pacing agitatedly in front of one the identical, utilitarian houses that littered Luke Field.
Short brunette hair, tight leather coat and denims that clung to her lithe frame, she would have caught Ziva's attention in any group but, in the midst of a medical crisis, she was an anomaly that required investigation. With a quick nod of the head, she indicated her intentions to McGee, but he was too busy rechecking the state of his still-not-swollen glands to pay her any attention.
Ziva waited for the woman to end her call before intercepting her path. "I'm Ziva David, working with NCIS."
The woman blinked, taken aback by Ziva's sudden appearance, but instinctively answering the unasked question, just as Ziva knew she would. "Eva Rossi, NIH."
There was a moment's pause, where, normally, a hand shake would have been, but Ziva kept her hands firmly tucked into the back pockets of her jeans. In that moment she studied the other woman from behind shaded eyes and the spark of interest she'd felt from afar intensified with the woman's - Eva's - growing apprehension.
"You don't look like a doctor."
Eva took up her own pose of indifference. "What is a doctor meant to look like?"
Ziva pointed at a rushing figure. "White coat, stethoscope, face that is too much without the sun."
The comment immediately made Eva think of Natalie, cooped up alone in her borrowed lab, fighting this latest disease with a determination that probably wasn't healthy. The image brought a smile and a touch of concern, neither of which were understood by the woman at her side. "You don't sound like an NCIS agent."
Eva would have expected the answer to be posed as a question, but it was a definitive statement and, as such, she had no idea how to answer. She wanted to leave, check in with Stephen or find an excuse to visit Nat, but Ziva's persistent stare left her no room for retreat without an admission of defeat. She might not have known what game the NCIS agent was playing, but she wasn't about to give in without a fright.
"Have you shown any symptoms?"
"I do not get sick."
"Everybody gets sick," Eva disagreed. "Any headaches, fevers, rashes?"
"We arrived after the second man died. We were not exposed."
"You can't know that." Where viruses and bacteria were concerned, Eva had begun to think you could never really know anything because each time you did, something changed and all the rules were rewritten. "The point of contact could be here, on base, and in that case you're just as much at risk as everybody else."
"As are you."
Eva acquiesced. "That's why we've all been quarantined."
It felt more like being caged to Ziva. Both Ford Island Bridge and Admiral Clarey Bridge, which connected the naval housing at Luke Filed and Nob Hill with the rest of Pearl Harbour, were bisected by barbed wire fences and blank-faced Marines standing guard on the other sides, ensuring compliance. It made her skin itch with the need to escape.
"I was not exposed."
Eva didn't argue. "I need to get back to work."
"So do I."
Uniformed men and women milled around the area, having been banished from their homes, but refused the option to leave the island. Children played on the grass, oblivious to their parents' concerned glances, and laughing joyously at the hustle and bustle of the frantic medics. The wishes of either of them were nothing compared to either the navy's wishes or the disease's demands, but the Mossad agent would accept neither's dominance over her own desire for freedom.
"Why were you sent here?" Eva asked. "What work were you sent here to accomplish?"
"To find the murderer."
"And have you?"
The annoyance mixed with determination that coloured Eva's voice stirred something close to desire in her target and Ziva was reminded of why she'd begun the conversation.
"There was no murder. They died because of your virus."
"And that virus is still out there, somewhere, waiting to kill again."
Ziva wasn't interested in microscopic bugs. She needed an enemy she could look in the eye and see crumble. If there was no enemy to be found, no real enemy that is, then she needed to provoke a different kind of submission.
"I find you interesting."
The non-sequitur caught Eva by surprise; she'd been ready to redirect the other woman's energies to helping track down the location of the toxins when, all of a sudden, the conversational landscape shifted. "You also find me very busy." She needed to speak with Natalie and reclaim her equilibrium. "If you don't want to help, do us all a favour and stay out of the way."
Ziva's smile was predatory as she watched the press liaison officer turn on her heels and start walking back towards one of the auxiliary buildings. The dismissal should have left her angry but, instead, it only fuelled her determination to get to know the other woman. If she was going to be caged, she wanted a pretty plaything behind the bars with her - and Eva Rossi fit that bill nicely.
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