Conversations

I caught Kill Ari on one of the syndicated mini-marathons recently, and it occurred to me that, for a year, Ziva knew about Gibbs' family and their deaths, and Gibbs knew she'd killed her brother Ari. And in addition to him accepting her unusually quickly, doesn't it make sense that sharing secret griefs would have drawn them close? I don't mean romantically, just personally. So, I present you with a series of conversations, over season three, about the secrets they're keeping for each other. This first one falls right at the end of Silver War. I paraphrased Ziva's dialogue from memory, so I know it's not exact. Reviews are always appreciated...
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At first Ziva wasn't sure what she was looking at. An image of Tony, another of McGee. Pencil smudging off on her fingers as she turned the page. And then one of Gibbs, signed with an artist's flair: C. Todd.

She studied the image more carefully. Gibbs was relaxed, smiling. His features seemed charming in a way she had never witnessed. She glanced over to his desk and saw the hardness in his eyes that had seemed to define him until this moment.

Ziva took a deep breath, surprised to find herself suddenly nervous, then stood and took the few steps to reach her boss. Their boss.

"I found this in the desk," she said, extending the drawing pad. "I think she would want you to have it."

Gibbs took the pad hesitantly, and as he flipped through the images, she caught a hint in his face of the smile Kate had once provoked.

Ziva took her seat again, but when she looked back to Gibbs, he was somber, the drawing pad no longer in his hands. As she watched, he pulled a flask from a drawer.

"Gibbs?"

He took a swig before turning to her. "David." He opened his mouth and tensed up as if to snap at her, then seemed to think better of it and extended the flask instead.

She slid her chair to the partition and reached for it, took a long swallow. "It bothers you to remember her?"

He glared. Not a talker, she noted. But then in their line of work such a tendency was deadly.
"You feel responsible," she stated.

Gibbs' quick glance was confirmation.

"It is not your fault," she said simply, studying the metal rim of the divider between them.

"He took her out to get to me," Gibbs snapped defensively.

Ziva was silent a moment before forcing the words out. "It's my fault he wanted to."

She could feel Gibbs' gaze burning a hole through her forehead.

"What?"

She breathed deeply. "I had profiled you for him, as you know. I knew Jenny well, for a while, and so most of your past was—not completely unfamiliar. But I had never heard her mention your dead wife and daughter." She darted a look at him, was caught his intensity. "I knew it was something of note. And I told Ari."

His eyes were fierce. They had not spoken of his family since they'd talked in the lab upon her arrival. Ziva paused until she could find the will to speak. "He went after her because of my information. If any of us should feel responsible, it is me." After a moment of silence, she spoke again, now at a whisper, though the bullpen was empty. "For his death, as well as hers."

She could still sense him looking at her, but the hand that rested on her shoulder after a moment was unexpectedly gentle.

"Sorry to interrupt your moment," Abby said snarkily as she approached from the other end of the bullpen.

Gibbs pulled away from her, discretely.

Ziva could feel the loss of the warmth from his hand.

"Abby," he said softly, and she softened. "Look what Ziva found."

As they conversed, Abby kneeling beside Gibbs' desk to examine the drawings, Ziva gathered her things. She deserved everything Abby could throw at her, and she knew it. She turned and headed toward the elevator without a farewell, failing to catch Gibbs watching her as she left Kate's desk, her personal hair shirt, behind her.