Ziva led the way out of the store, followed by Gibbs and Tony. They made their way to the dark sedan that they had driven from D.C. Tony approached the passenger side of the car, while Ziva and Gibbs walked to the driver's side. Tony paused as he reached for the handle, waiting for Gibbs to unlock it from the panel on the driver's door. Just as Gibbs was going to do so, Ziva's hand shot out and grasped his wrist firmly.
"Wait," she said. Piercing blue eyes shot to her, obeying her command, but she didn't notice the glance. Her instincts were screaming at her, telling her something was off. Stronger than the prickle at the back of her neck that told her someone was watching her, this sensation was accompanied by a vicious twisting in her gut. She quickly reached out with her senses, searching for anything that seemed out of place. At first, nothing presented itself, but then—there. Ever so soft, barely discernable, but unmistakable nevertheless, and now thundering in her ears as she realized the implications—a faint ticking sound, coming from underneath the car. In an instant, she had thrown herself against Gibbs, shoving him away from the sedan. "Bomb!" she cried out. Tony responded immediately, dodging away from the car. A moment later, the car exploded in to a mass of flame and heat.
The force of the blast threw Gibbs and Ziva off their feet. Gibbs both thanked God that he had partially cushioned Ziva's impact with the pavement, and cursed himself for being unable to shield her from the blast itself. The Marine quickly recovered, propping himself onto his elbows, his eyes immediately going to the still form of his team member.
"Ziva," he said, getting to his feet quickly, only to kneel again at her side. Her eyes were closed, and the image of her lying bloody on a stretcher after the bombing in Morocco flashed across his mind. He noticed her hand was trapped beneath her head, and his first assumption was that she had managed to protect her head from hitting the pavement. But then sharp eyes detected movement: a lone tear escaping her shut lids. And then he realized she was not unconscious, and that the trapped hand was not protecting her head, but was being pressed over her ear, the same ear that had bothered her on the U.S.S. Reagan. "Oh, Ziva," he sighed, knowing the pain she would have to be in to be rendered so immobile. He shifted slightly to gather her in his arms, moving slowly to avoid triggering her innate, and lethal, reflexes. It was then that he noticed his father had come around the flaming car to check on them.
"Ziva!" Before Gibbs even had the chance to touch her, Tony came pelting around the side of the car, and without pausing, slid to the ground next to his partner and scooped her into his arms. Before Gibbs was able to warn him, the Mossad officer lashed out, snaking her free hand around to grasp the back of his skull, and yanking his head into her waiting knee. Then an elbow caught him in the solar plexus, and when his arms went limp, she rolled out of his grasp, and fluidly moved to her feet with a feline grace that belied her compromised position. The entire altercation took less than five seconds, but left the Senior Field Agent bloody and wheezing nonetheless. Once on her feet, however, she faltered, and the drain of color from Ziva's face told Gibbs the swift movement and change in elevation had left her disoriented, unbalanced, and in pain. He swiftly stood and went to her side, reaching out to gently touch her arm. Still on edge, she jerked away from his grasp. The movement was more than she could handle, though, and her legs gave out. Gibbs caught her slim form, and brought them both back down to kneel on the pavement, where she paused, and took deep breaths to keep the pain at bay. Her hand was still pressed tightly against the side of her head, and her eyes were shut tight.
"Ziva," Gibbs said after a moment. When she didn't respond, he reached out and tipped her chin up so that he could see her face. Her eyes opened, and the pain so clearly evident in those brown orbs nearly broke his heart. "Ziva, can you hear me?" Her eyes squeezed shut again as another wave of pain hit her. "Ziva!" They opened again. "Can you hear me?" She nodded, as she once more closed her eyes, and she bowed her head. Gibbs could see her struggling to keep her breathing even. Gently he wrapped his arms around her in a bracing hug, and she rested her head against his chest. Over her head, Gibbs saw his father staring, but whether it was at him, her, or both, he couldn't tell. The slightly shocked expression on his father's face, however, suggested the old man had been unprepared for Ziva's display of self-defense.
After a few minutes, he felt Ziva relax slightly. He brought his lips to her good ear and whispered "You ok to go back inside?" Her resultant nod made him smile slightly—she was always one to recover quickly, even if this would have put anyone else in the hospital. He helped her to stand, but really only to steady her: she had been able to stand on her own power. Still pressing her hand to her ear, she made her way back to the store, hesitating only when she reached the curb. But then the elder Gibbs offered her his hand, which Ziva accepted with a small smile. The grey-haired man visibly relaxed, and he escorted her into the store. Gibbs smiled slightly at the exchange before following. When he got to the sidewalk, he was intercepted by Tony.
"All out evidence was in the car, Boss," he said, his voice muffled by the hand that was pinching his nose in an attempt to halt the flow of blood. Gibbs sighed. Blue eyes flicked from the car to the door Ziva had just entered, before settling on the agent once more.
"I don't give a damn about the evidence, Dinozzo," he said finally. Then he turned, and entered his father's store.