Epilogue

Three Weeks Later

The elevator doors opened and Ziva and Gibbs stepped inside the NCIS squad room.

He had called ahead to announce his return from his sudden 'vacation', so he wasn't surprised when he saw Ducky and Abby standing by his desk along with DiNozzo and McGee, all of them sporting a happy but stunned look on their faces.

It wasn't just because they were surprised to see Ziva again; it was mostly because of the way Gibbs' right arm was possessively wrapped around her waist, a half embrace that no one would mistake as one between colleagues or even friends.

The couple stepped into the space between the desks, but before Gibbs could say anything to make the four people standing there close their mouths, Vance's appearance did the trick.

He let go of his wife's waist and straightened, as she did the same at his side.

"Director Vance," Ziva bowed her head in salute.

"Ziva. Welcome back. I'm happy to see you recovered well from your injuries."

Gibbs saw Tony throw a startled look at her and open his mouth, probably to ask "What injuries?", but Vance's voice blocked him.

"I assume there won't be more impromptu absences in the future," he commented, facing Gibbs.

"No, Director."

"Good." Vance paced for a moment between the desks, followed by six expecting gazes, and then he stopped and stared straight at husband and wife.

"Special Agent Gibbs," he said, addressing Gibbs.

"Yes, sir?"

"Special Agent Gibbs," and the director focused on Ziva as they heard the collective gasp of their friends and team members.

"Yes, Director?"

"I've decided to leave you two in the same team. It's highly unusual to have a married couple working together, but I trust you to behave professionally while at on the job."

Gibbs nodded, imitated by Ziva, as he struggled to control his surprise.

While it was true Vance had smoothed things to allow Ziva to become a full member of NCIS, he hadn't expected the director would let them work together.

Perhaps Leon thought theirs was only a marriage of convenience, a way to take her away from Eli David, or perhaps he thought he could use her and their relationship to control Gibbs.

Whatever the reason, Gibbs was glad for his decision and he knew he and Ziva would have no problems in working together. After all, they had been a couple for the past year and half, and no one, not even Tony DiNosey, had noticed anything different.

Vance gave them another penetrating glance then walked away.

As Ziva moved to put her backpack on her desk, Gibbs looked at the four faces still staring at him and snapped, "What?"

Finally Tony managed to regain some of his wits. "Agent Gibbs?" he croaked looking at Ziva.

"Married couple?" McGee echoed as if the idea was completely alien to him.

Abby instead began to grin, and Ducky shook his head with a mix of fondness and amusement.

"Yep. We have been together for the past year and half," Gibbs answered.

"And you didn't tell me anything? Bad Gibbs!" Abby pouted.

"Abs…"

Abby glared at him, but it didn't last long. "Come to think of it, you've been more relaxed in the past months…I should have investigated why…"

DiNozzo and McGee exchanged a look and Gibbs saw in their eyes the question neither of them wanted to voice aloud.

And Rivkin?

Ziva understood too and walking in front of the two agents, she said, "Michael Rivkin was a colleague, a friend and a man my father would have liked to see married to me. I…played along to protect my relationship with Jethro."

"Then, that day in Tel Aviv?" Tony asked, as the phone of Gibbs' desk started ringing. He went to answer but kept on listening to their conversation, not as her husband, but as their team leader. He needed to smooth things between them, otherwise their working relationship would be too strained to be efficient.

"I was shocked, Tony. I might have not loved Michael as a lover, but he was a dear friend. Also, we were observed, and I needed to keep on playing my role." Ziva bowed her head and took a step forward. "I apologize if I hurt you, both physically and emotionally.

As he listed to the phone's speaker Gibbs smiled upon seeing his wife offer her hand and Tony take it, just after the barest of hesitation.

Abby squealed in delight and clapped her hands, while Ducky and McGee nodded. Gibbs knew it would take longer for Ziva and DiNozzo to put what had happened completely behind them, but at least they had taken a big step in the right direction.

He put down the phone and whistled, silencing Abby's enthusiastic babbling, Ducky's congratulations, McGee's asking Ziva when and where the wedding had taken place and Tony's confident answer he would be able to discover it in thirty minutes.

"Party is over!" he said. "We'll continue this evening, my house—our house. You're all invited. Now gear up, we've a dead Marine in Quantico. Ziva, we'll get your stuff when we're back."

"I'm gonna get down to put Major Mass Spec on red alert, ready for all the evidence you'll bring me," Abby said, but on her way to the lift, she stopped, came back and hugged Gibbs. "I can still do this, can't I? Ziva won't be jealous?"

"You can, and nope," he answered, kissing her cheek. "Now go."

As Abby walked away, the whole team moved toward the elevator, Gibbs in the rear. He slowed his steps, watching as Ziva and McGee talked about something, Tony looked over them and Ducky tried to intervene with one of his anecdotes.

He nodded to himself. His family was already reconnecting and soon the recent crisis and separation would be relegated to the past or became, just as in his and his wife's case, a cherished memory.

Then his features hardened as he quickened his steps again. There was a dead Marine in Quantico and it wasn't the time for emotional stuff…but that night, in their bed, he planned to be a hell of emotional with his wife…

//Promise?// Ziva's asked into his mind.

//Promise.// Gibbs answered as he stepped into the elevator and pressed the garage floor button. //Promise.//

THE END

---------------

That's all for now. Thank you for your reviews and support. I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I did when I wrote it. I don't know if there willl be more stories in this AU, but there will certainly be more Gibbs/Ziva stories. Stay tuned for them! *wink*