Title: Through the Cracks - Epilogue
Author: jaina47
Written for: soniahugo
Archive: Only ralst has permission. Ask me if you want it.
Rating: PG- 13 maybe? No worse than the show.
Warnings/Spoilers: Through Hiatus I & II and if you really work for it maybe Shalom.
Genre: Gen
Pairings: None to speak of.
Word Count: 4,716
Disclaimer: I do not own anything and am not getting paid
Prompt: I'd like to read a story in which Ziva calls Gibbs up on the favor he owes her. I want it to follow canon and I really don't want any Gibbs/Ziva romance. Including the other characters (especially Tony) would be appreciated and I love stories with a bit of humor and banter in them
Author's Note: This story is very, very late from the general estimate that I gave Rinkleon when it would be done. For that I apologize very much to soniahugo. I do hope you enjoy this.

Epilogue

When Abby woke, the room was dimly lit and unfamiliar. She gasped and her hands clenched at the rough sheets that were pulled up over her chest.

Almost immediately, another hand covered hers. Abby jerked her attention away from the hand to identify whom it belonged to.

"It's okay, Abby," Gibbs said in a soothingly. "You're safe now. They took you to the Bethesda to treat you for shock and any other possible injuries." He talked softly, letting words spill out to give her a chance for her mind to catch up with the situation.

He was still all too familiar with that sensation of disorientation. She squeezed his hand once and then turned her head away from him.

"Ziva and Tony," she asked in a quiet voice.

"They're right outside."

Abby nodded once, but still wouldn't look at him. He could feel the hurt pouring off of her and knew it had less to do with Pearson than with him – with the way he had cut her off when she needed him the most.

Gibbs crouched down beside her bed and then tugged on her hand. Her eyes flicked towards him.

"I'm sorry."

"Gibbs…" Her fingers tightened in a painful grip on his hand. She knew what that admission meant to him.

"I should have been there. I never should have let him come near you." His voice trembled with barely suppressed fury.

She met his eyes without a hint of her usual playfulness. "You came for me anyway."

Gibbs looked just as serious. "I will always come for you."

Abby smiled, "And bring me Caf-Pow?"

It surprised a laugh out of Gibbs. He felt some of the anger and tension ease away from him, blown away by Abby's forgiveness and teasing. He pushed himself up from the crouching position he had been in and stifled a grunt as his knees and still partially injured body protested.

Abby grasped his hand tighter and he patted her hand reassuringly as he pulled a chair closer to her bed.

Abby relaxed and smiled. It was a weaker, more tired version of her usual smile, but it was still the same smile.

Gibbs sat in silence, holding her hand and carefully watching over her after she had fallen asleep. It was almost dawn before he slowly stood. Gently he took her hand and placed it over her heart. He slowly released it and pulled his own hand away.

Abby stirred in her sleep. "Gibbs," she murmured groggily.

Her hand flailed out blindly and caught a handful of his shirt.

"I have to go, Abby," he spoke quietly, leaning over her to place a gentle kiss on her forehead.

"Stay," she pleaded, her eyes still closed and voice full of sleep.

"I can't," he repeated. There were some things that he could do, even for Abby.

Even in her half-asleep state, she seemed to deflate and abruptly, she let go of him and then rolled away from him. Gibbs took one last look at her and then straightened and turned away.

It was time for him to go.

"Good," Director Sheppard said firmly. "For once something ended well."

Ziva leaned back in the chair. Her boots had been discarded on the floor and her legs were drawn up in the chair.

"I don't wish to have to do something like that again anytime soon."

Jenny looked at Ziva closely for the first time since she had entered her office. "You know, Ziva, you should take a few days off. I know that Abby has been given some time off before she returns to work. I'm sure she'd appreciate the company."

Ziva seemed surprised by the suggestion, but seemed to actually consider it for a moment.

"No, I do not think so. She – I…this is not a good time for me to be absent. WE will have enough to do with Gibbs gone."

Jenny set back down behind her desk and pinned Ziva with a knowing gaze. "She has forgiven you, Ziva. You saved her life. Abby's not still angry with you."

Ziva didn't respond and Jenny sighed. Sometimes Ziva could be so stubborn.

"Tony will become the new Team Leader," Ziva asked a moment later.

"It will be temporary, at least for a short period of time, to give Jethro a chance to change his mind, but yes, he will." Jenny studied Ziva closely. "With Gibbs gone, will you request a transfer back to Israel?"

Ziva looked up slowly. She didn't seem surprised that Jenny had asked the question.

"No," she answered carefully, "His absence changes many things, but not this. My superiors still want me here."

Jenny quirked an eyebrow at her. "What about what you want?"

"I'm here for now." Ziva smiled faintly and Jenny pushed down the urge to laugh. It was as close to an admission that she was happy as she was likely to get and it was a typically infuriating Ziva answer at that.

She watched in silence as Ziva slowly straightened and slipped her boots back on. As Ziva stood to leave, Jenny called after her.

"Tell Agent DiNozzo to come in."

Ziva nodded as she opened the door to the outer office. She saw Tony waiting in one of the chairs.

"The Director is waiting for you."

Tony stood and tugged at his suit jacket before he started towards her. He stopped in front of Ziva and leaned in close to her.

"Are you going by the hospital? McGee is getting some sleep right now and I'm not sure when Gibbs will leave…"

None of them felt like taking any chances with Abby's safety. It was as much for their own reassurance as it was for her own sake.

"I'll stay with her today," she agreed. I would not want to miss it when she finds out that you're the new team leader."

She walked away with a smirk, leaving Tony staring after her.

"That woman…" he mumbled to himself. He shook his head as he walked into the Director's office.

He was certainly glad that she was one his side most of the time.

When Ziva exited NCIS it was still totally dark. By the time she had reached the hospital false dawn was beginning to show.

Ziva traced her way back to Abby's room; she and Tony had spent several hours there the previous evening before the Director had called them back to NCIS to be debriefed.

She paused in the middle of the hallway as she saw Gibbs carefully shutting the door of Abby's room behind him. She crossed her arms over her chest as she waited fro him to approach her and tugged her leather jacket further around her.

"Ziva."

"Gibbs."

He looked into her eyes with unfamiliar intensity; this Gibbs was more raw than the Gibbs she knew.

"You and Tony did well."

"It took us two days to realize that she was missing." Ziva looked down, angry at the way that her voice had broken with emotion.

Gibbs reached out and put a hand gently on her shoulder. "You were there." She could hear the pain in his voice that matched her own. He squeezed her shoulder. "I'm," he coughed, "I'm proud of you." He let go; his hand dropping to his side. He nodded his head towards the room. "Take care of them." He smiled in that knowing Gibbs way. "And keep DiNozzo out of trouble."

"That's a difficult assignment…Boss."

Gibbs laughed. "You're up to it." Still half-laughing he turned away.

Ziva watched him walk down the hallway before she turned and moved towards Abby's room.

"Ziva." She turned back quickly. The humor was gone; Gibbs was completely serious. "This doesn't change things. I still owe you one."

Ziva felt her throat tighten at the mention of what lay between them. She forced herself to nod an acknowledgement and then gratefully slipped inside Abby's room. She quietly shut the door behind herself and then took a deep breath. She let it out slowly and when she had composed herself she walked over to stand beside Abby.

The small laceration on her forehead and the bruise on her cheek stood out vividly against her skin.

"Hey," Abby said groggily.

"Hi," Ziva replied quietly.

For a moment Abby struggled to fully open her eyes and focus.

Ziva smiled in bemusement. "Go to sleep," she commanded gently. "I'll stay." And watch over you, she added to herself as she sank into a chair.

It was what Gibbs would want.