Title: Taking Chances
Characters: Ziva David, Abby Sciuto, L.J. Gibbs, Jenny Sheppard, Tony DiNozzo, Timothy McGee, Eli David
Category: Drama, Action, Romance
Prompt: #1 Beginnings
Word Count: (Total) 15,148
Spoilers: Very mild ones for 3.17 "Ravenous" but it veers off from the episode very quickly.
Summary: Ziva invites Abby over for dinner. Romance and complications ensue.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: Heh. What to say? This author's note might get to be longer than the entire fic. :p First up, a big thanks to ncruuk. Her comments not only pointed out some stylistic choices I hadn't thought about before, but also kept me laughing through the whole thing. I actually enjoyed the whole editing process. I don't think that's every happened to me before.
Second of all, if you think you've read this fic before, you would be right. I started this fic in March of '06 and wrote the first three parts before I got stuck and stopped writing it. I always meant to come back to it, but it just never quite worked out. When I realized it was the last fic I had to complete to finish fanfic100 I decided it was really time to buckle down. Plus I rather like the symmetry of this being the first fic I started for fanfic100 and the last I finished.
The first three parts are where the fic stalled out, but they've been re-written in parts and just now beta'd for the first time. After that, it's all new!
No music pounded or machines whirred; her lab was dark and silent. Usually Abby Sciuto liked dark and silent, but somehow in her lab, it just seemed wrong. Empty. She knew the rest of the building had to be empty by now: it was far into the night and well past NCIS office hours. She was alone now and, with her work done, she would have to find somewhere else to haunt.
She removed the dozens of black roses that she had been given earlier that day out of the cooled storage space that was most often used to refrigerate perishable evidence samples, and turned to get Gibbs' present. Thinking of his gift cheered her, but she still didn't feel like her usual ebullient self. For once, she was actually tired and did not want to be on her own, whether it be at home or amidst a crowd of frenetic strangers in a club.
Abby turned to grab her coat off the chair in her office and swallowed a shriek: Ziva stood leaning in the doorway with her arms crossed over her chest, her eyes glittering like chips of opal in the darkened room.
"I did not mean to startle you."
"I-You," Abby was stymied, her tongue tripping all over itself. "I mean, I thought that everyone was already gone," she explained, her hands waving boldly as she talked. "Did you need something?" she asked hopefully. If Ziva had evidence that needed processing it would give her a reason to stay and put off leaving a little longer. Maybe she would even have to run extensive tests, that would be time and thought consuming.
"No," Ziva shook her head, dashing Abby's brief hopes. She gestured at the flowers that Abby still held. "I wanted to make it up to you."
"Oh," Abby tried not to sound disappointed, but Ziva seemed to hear it in her tone.
"At least let me prepare you dinner. I know you haven't ingested anything but Caf-Pow since this morning. Gibbs has kept you even busier than us."
For an instant Abby considered and then brightened. She wouldn't be alone, but..."What did you mean by prepare me dinner?"
"I will cook." Ziva looked slightly affronted. "Was I not clear?"
Abby shrugged. "Sometimes when people say that they will prepare a meal, they don't always mean that they're going to cook it." It had been quite a while since she had eaten something besides take out: real cooked food would be a treat.
Ziva cocked an eyebrow at her. "Is that a yes?"
Abby flashed her a smile. "Yes."
"Good," Ziva straightened, pulling her jacket closed around her lithe frame. "I will meet you in the garage in five minutes. You can follow me to my apartment."
Abby nodded. "Okay." She watched as Ziva left and then walked back to her own car with a strange little smile. Ziva was not Kate and she still missed her friend dearly, but Ziva was definitely growing on her.
Ziva's apartment had not been what she expected the first time she had been in it. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she had expected it to be a barren, sterile place, hardly lived in, but that was far from the case. The walls and floors were decorated in rich warm colors; the furniture was tasteful, but comfortable. A few magazines spilled out across the coffee table and a pile of books stood beside the couch.
Ziva was already moving around inside the apartment, leaving Abby behind in the living room as she absorbed the details of her surroundings. She stuck her head back around the corner when she noticed that Abby was no longer behind her. "You can hang your coat in the closet. I will be out in just a moment."
Abby bobbed forward a little, feeling stuck in place. "Okay, thanks."
When Ziva slipped out of sight again, she hung her coat in the indicated closet and then turned to look around. She was staring at an intricate carving that rested on top of one of the short bookshelves in the room, causing Ziva to smile when saw her as she reentered the room, but make no comment. The former Mossad agent looked comfortable and relaxed and her service weapon was no longer at her side: it was the first time Abby could remember seeing her act so freely. She was definitely seeing a different side to Ziva, than the tough, take-no-prisoners woman who showed up to work everyday.
Abby watched, feeling somehow subdued but hyper alert as she followed Ziva into the kitchen and watched her cook. Ziva moved with calm confidence, supremely sure of what she was doing.
"You cook a lot?"
Ziva shrugged. "When I am in the mood, yes. Sometimes it is nice to eat food from home."
Abby nodded. "I never picked up the knack for cooking." She rolled her eyes, "My mother wasn't the best teacher and I never tried to learn. There was always too much to do."
Ziva nodded. "It was rare that I cooked at home. Now, it is something that I can indulge in more often."
Abby hesitated, hearing the implication behind the words. For a moment, she considered asking about the time that the other woman had spent working for Mossad, but she didn't ask. She had spent enough time around Special Agents to know that Ziva would not say anything and she was enjoying the moment too much to ruin it.
"And when were last home in time to cook properly?" Abby asked, with a teasing grin, attempting to move the conversation away from heavier topics.
"More recently than Tony's last sucessful date..." decided Ziva after some careful thought, enjoying Abby's laughter at their friend's expense.
Ziva seemed to relax more and more as the evening wore on and even pulled out a bottle of wine with dinner. At first Abby had been a bit skeptical about the food. It smelled delicious but was decidedly unfamiliar. It only took her a few bites however, to discern that the food was indeed as good as it had smelled.
She gestured towards the food with her fork and, through a mouthful of food, exclaimed, "This is really good."
Ziva grinned, speared a piece of vegetable and popped it into her mouth. "You are welcome."
They finished the meal in easy conversation. Abby's exhaustion from earlier in the day had seemed to disappear and Ziva was equally animated. They were in good spirits as they finally stood to clear the dishes off the table.
Ziva retrieved the wine glasses and the bottle from the table and by mutual consent the two women moved back into the living room. Abby slouched onto the couch, folding her legs underneath her, and held her hand out eagerly for her glass. Carefully Ziva refilled the two glasses and then leaned across the space to hand Abby her glass.
Abby took it from her and brought it to her lips, taking a judicious sip. Ziva's wine was good, but she didn't want to overindulge. She wasn't ready to be drunk quite yet. She could feel tension and excitement building within her. It was bubbling up inside of her and making her feel just a little bit wild. She went with the feeling and reached back across the distance between them before she could think better of it. Ziva was leaning over the couch to place the bottle of wine on the coffee table and Abby's hand caught the small, delicate gold star that hung around Ziva's neck. Ziva froze, carefully not moving. She had seen Abby's sudden movement out of the corner of her eye and she didn't want to jerk back and risk breaking her necklace. She tilted her head up to look at the other woman.
Abby flushed slightly. "It's beautiful."
Ziva forced her eyes shut against the flash of pain that came with the memory Abby had triggered. "My brother gave it to me as a graduation present. It meant very much to me," she whispered. She reopened her eyes to find Abby staring at her with curiosity. She shook her head to dispel the unpleasant thoughts and a piece of hair fell across her eyes. She started to reach a hand up to brush it back, but Abby slipped her hand up first, letting go of the necklace and gently guided the hair back behind her ear. Ziva watched her carefully, surprised that Abby's gesture hadn't bothered her.
Abby seemed to be suddenly nervous. Withdrawing her hand, she waved it through the air awkwardly, as if she wasn't sure what to do with it then. "Sorry, sometimes people say that I have boundary issues."
"I did not mind." Ziva admitted.
"Really?" Abby cocked her head, one pigtail swinging idly around it.
"Really," Ziva replied, suddenly enjoying the moment. She and Abby had gotten to this place very much by accident, but she was intrigued. Abby was different. She wasn't frightened of her as some people, especially other women, were. She had even hated her for a time. It was refreshing to have someone who was not constantly holding back from her.
"Yeah," Abby said eying her, "You don't seem like a girl who has to play within the rules."
It was a challenge. "You do not seem concerned with them either, Abigail."
Abby shot her an indignant glare. "You used the full name. No one uses the full name."
"As you said, I do not always follow the rules. Besides, it's a beautiful name."
Abby grinned. "Touché - but don't wear it out."
"I will not."
"I didn't think you would."
Ziva watched her carefully across the scant feet that separated them. Abby met her gaze without hesitation. She was enjoying the flirting, but she wanted more. It was time to up the ante.
"So...how long is it going to take you to kiss me?"
There was a moment of silence. Ziva laughed. "Never let it be said that I turned down such a generous invitation."
Ziva caught Abby's jaw and pressed her lips to Abby's cheek, just brushing her lips. Abby curved her mouth towards Ziva's. "You missed."
"Not yet," Ziva whispered, her other hand reaching out to slide under Abby's t-shirt and pull her closer. "I simply refuse to be predictable." She tilted her head and found Abby's lips this time. She kissed her with bruising intensity, lips, tongue and teeth, dancing furiously. Abby responded with equal intensity, and Ziva was left gasping for breath. This felt so right.
Abby threw one leg over her lap, and pushed back into the kiss harder. Both of her hands slid under Ziva's shirt, tugging it upwards. Ziva pulled back, raising her arms to allow the motion.
"We should have done this before," Abby laughed as she threw Ziva's shirt in the general direction of the coffee table.
"I could not agree more."