Disclaimer: NCIS does not belong to me. No copyright infringement is intended.
It has been almost eighteen hours, now, that Ziva has been camped out in Gibbs's basement. "Lying low," as Tony would say. It's not exactly a Mossad safe house, and yet, it feels strangely secure. It intrigues her, in a way, the thought of Gibbs working down here. Drinking and brooding, most likely. She'd had a sniff at the old, dusty bottle sitting on the wooden frame. Disgusting. But then, Ziva knows about Gibbs's past. She remembers how she felt after Tali, after Ari. So who is she to judge?
At first, she had been calm. Or at least, as calm as one could be while on the run from the FBI, Mossad, and her father. But now she was starting to go crazy. She had been stuck in close quarters before – on long stake-outs, trapped inside a shipping container with Tony – had even, on one memorable occasion, spent six hours lying flat on her stomach in a rusty heating duct. Compared to those occasions, Gibbs's basement is absurdly large. So why does she feel so much like a caged animal?
It's the waiting that is killing her. Ziva is not a particularly patient person to begin with, she knows. But to just sit here, doing nothing, having no control over events which may well affect the rest of her life? This is pure torture.
And, of course, it gives her time to reflect. Time to realize over and over again how utterly stupid she has been. She's not a rookie, for heaven's sake. She a trained operative, an agent who has proved herself in the field time and time again. So why had she made such an obvious mistake? She should have known it was a trap! Hadn't she been trained to recognize them? And to make matters worse, she had left her car at the scene of the crime, casting suspicion squarely onto herself. Stupid!
She needs to do something with her hands. After hanging up with Gibbs, she had spent nearly an hour flinging her knife into the wall of the basement, the steady thunk! thunk! thunk! it made bringing her an odd kind of comfort, until the few stray tears that had made their way down her cheeks had tried, leaving her skin feeling tight and tacky.
She wonders if Gibbs had been able to tell that she'd been crying. In spite of herself, she lets out an incredibly undignified snort. Who is she kidding? Of course he had known. He wouldn't be Gibbs if he hadn't. She just hopes he doesn't think too badly of her, now. She isn't the type of woman who often lets others see her cry.
And yet, she sure seems to be doing a lot of it, lately. She deliberately shrugs that thought away. There is nothing she can do about her rather embarrassing display of emotion now. And somehow, she doesn't really believe that he will think less of her for it. It's taken her a while, but she does trust him, now.
Which, of course, is what led to the emotion in the first place. After a year of working under Special Agent Gibbs, Ziva has become used to the idea that there is no problem he can't solve. It was naïve of her, she knows, calling him like that. Thinking that he would be able to make everything all right. Asking him to save her. She hadn't meant to say it. Or at least, hadn't meant to sound quite so pathetic doing it. But she had, and, despite her lingering embarrassment, she is glad she did.
Because, of course, Gibbs hadn't disappointed her. He is coming, and, though it makes her feel a bit childish, Ziva is still incredibly glad he is. Because now she doesn't have to deal with this all on her own. And for a moment, thinking that she would, she had been really and truly frightened. And she hadn't liked that feeling. Hadn't liked it at all.
But she's been waiting for hours, now, and she can't remember ever having felt quite so impatient. She has cleaned her weapon thoroughly. Three times. And run through all the details, all the facts relevant to her current situation, looking for patterns, attempting to find answers. At least a dozen times. And, when she had been beginning to feel truly desperate, she had found brief solace in prayer.
But now she is at her wits' end. She desperately needs to do something productive. She feels like she is going to explode, if she doesn't do something. She needs to keep her hands busy. So, with this thought in mind, she wanders back over to the boat. She examines it curiously, running her hand carefully along the smooth wood. From Tony's comments – gossip, really, though she doesn't exactly object to hearing it – she knows that Gibbs has built the entire thing using only hand tools. Looking at it now, Ziva can't help being impressed. Apparently, she's not the only one who likes to keep her hands busy when she's upset.
Well, if it works for him… Ziva wanders over to the workbench. He's left a sander on the edge, just waiting to be picked up. So she does. She runs it over the surface of the wood, a bit uncertainly. To be honest, she has no idea what she's doing. Carpentry isn't exactly her area of expertise. But really, how hard could it be?
She moves the tool slowly against the wood. Back and forth, back and forth. The rhythm of the motion calms her, almost hypnotic in its steadiness. Back and forth, back and forth. She focuses on nothing but the pattern, letting it sooth her raw nerves.
Suddenly, a cleared throat behind her interrupts her reverie. Immediately, she snaps into action, every nerve on alert. She whirls around, weapon in hand, only to see a familiar pair of blue eyes staring back at her. Gibbs.
He raises an amused eyebrow at her, saying dryly. "Oh, by all means, Officer David. Do make yourself at home."
Glancing sheepishly from him, to the boat, to the tool that has clattered to the floor, she manages to resist the urge to break into hysterical laughter. Dear God, she's never been so happy to see anyone! Before she can stop herself, she launches herself at him, forcing him to take a step backward, staggering slightly from the strength of her embrace. Almost immediately, she regrets it, and half-expects him to push her away.
But he doesn't. He stiffens momentarily, then brings a hand up to gently cradle the back of her head. It takes every ounce of her self-control to keep from bursting into tears again. But she can't stop herself from relaxing against him, exhaling deeply and resting her cheek against his chest. She stays there a moment, because, ridiculous though it might be, his solid presence makes her feel so safe. Protected. And like it or not, she has been feeling vulnerable these past hours. Because as accustomed as she is to facing danger, to confronting difficult situations, Ziva isn't accustomed to having to do it alone. And now she doesn't have to.
Another moment more, and she forces herself to pull away. She meets his gaze hesitantly, a bit apprehensive at seeing his reaction to her uncharacteristic clinginess. But though he rolls his eyes at her, they are soft with understanding. He knows. And he won't condemn her for it. He does have a criticism to make, however.
"You let down your guard," he tells her, and there's a rebuke in the comment.
"Yes," she admits. What else is there to do? They both know that he's right. "It will not happen again."
She looks back at him, a bit uncertain. Now that he's finally here, she isn't sure where to start. There's so much she needs to fill him in on, but her thoughts are jumbled. If she tries to speak now, she'll babble. And she's embarrassed herself in front of this man quite enough for one day.
He studies her critically for a moment, then demands, "When was the last time you ate, Ziva?"
Startled, she has to think about that for a moment. "Last night."
He rolls his eyes again. She nearly returns the gesture. Of all the mistakes she's made today, that's what he's choosing to worry about?
Shaking his head, he crooks a finger at her. "C'mon, then. We'll take care of that first."
She can't do much more than stare as he leads her into the kitchen and begins rummaging in cupboards. Within a few minutes, he's got a pot of water boiling and has found a box of dry spaghetti and a can of tomato sauce. Ziva definitely would not have guessed that his cooking skills extended much further than calling in takeout. Granted, boiling a pot of pasta isn't exactly difficult, but still. The image of Gibbs cooking is positively bizarre.
He says nothing until after he has dropped the noodles into the boiling water and set a timer. Then he turns back around and, noticing that she hasn't moved from her spot in the corner of the room, jerks his head towards the table. "All right. Sit down." He takes a chair opposite her and leans back, stretching out his legs. "So. You want to fill me in?"
He doesn't say much as she recounts the story, interrupting only a few times to demand that she elaborate, or to clarify a point. When she has finally told him everything she can think of, she watches him expectantly, waiting for a response.
"I have to admit, Ziva, I'm impressed."
"What?" This was definitely not the reaction she was expecting.
He just shakes his head. "You really don't do anything halfway, do you? Is there anyone you haven't managed to piss off?"
She sighs, smiling a little even as she winces. "Honestly? I do not think so." As she thinks about the truth of that statement, the situation suddenly isn't funny anymore. Not at all. Dear God, what is she going to do?
No doubt seeing the panic in her eyes, Gibbs holds up a hand. "Hey." When she doesn't respond, he reaches out and flicks her lightly on the arm with his finger. "Hey. Breathe." He regards her steadily for a moment, then continues, his voice matter-of-fact, "We'll figure this out."
And for some reason, despite the uncertainty of the situation, Ziva believes him.
A/N: Feedback is definitely welcome! I would love to hear from you.