Title: A Whole New World
Characters: Ziva David, Abby Sciuto, Tony DiNozzo
Category: Drama, Romance, Angst
Word Count: 3,119
Spoilers: 7.05 Code of Conduct
Summary: Ziva needs help. Who will she turn to?
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This is the first NCIS fic I've written in a while, so I was feeling a bit rusty, but the Halloween episodes are always some of my favorites. I just missed Abs' usual costume. :( And I need to say a big thank you to thought_goddess for looking over this for me. It's very much appreciated!
"He is infuriating!" The words were all but lost in a din of clashing voices and discordant sounds as Ziva charged into the room.
Abby whirled to face her, her hands up and a pained expression on her face. "Don't move!"
Ziva froze instantly, years of training kicking in at the all too familiar words.
"It's motion sensitive," Abby explained, pivoting very slowly back toward her computer.
Ziva's heart began to race, sending adrenaline flooding through her system. "What, Abby?" She asked, in a very calm, clear voice. "What is motion sensitive?" Her mind was already lurching into motion in jerks and starts, raising possibilities and dismissing them before the thought was completely formed. There were too many possibilities until Abby began to narrow it down for her, and more than a few of them were very dangerous.
Abby very slowly waved a hand behind her. "All of this. The things that Corby used for his jokes."
"So there is nothing wrong?" Ziva asked in that same calm, careful voice.
From her angle, Ziva could see Abby's slight pout. "Just a headache that won't go away from all this noise." Abby gestured emphatically behind her and then groaned at the resulting barrage of voices and various other noises her moment's forgetfulness had set off.
Relief flooded through Ziva, and while everything was still activated, made her way too Abby's side, turning around so that she was facing Abby and leaning back against the counter with her arms crossed over her chest.
"At least you know that this will be over soon. DiNozzo will not let this go. He has not let this go, and if Timothy is any indication he will not let this go for a very long time - years!" Ziva protested, her voice rising with every word. Her frustration with the situation was clear.
"Let what go?" Abby asked with a slight grin. "With Tony there are so many possibilities."
"He will not stop calling me Probie!" The words exploded out of her mouth without any more prompting. "I admit that I was not the best investigator when I became the Mossad liaison to NCIS, but that was years ago. I knew nothing about how to investigate crimes: gathering evidence, verifying alibis, or questioning suspects, but I have learned much from Gibbs since then. I am very good at what I do now, and he refuses to acknowledge that."
"I get that," Abby said, nodding as she remained focused on the computer screen in front of her, still typing as she considered what Ziva had said. "I hate it when anyone questions my competence." She shrugged and glanced over at Ziva. "You know he's just doing it because he knows it gets to you, right? Like a little boy pulling your pigtails on the playground when you were a kid."
Ziva shook her head. "I did not have pigtails." She reached out to finger the ends of one of Abby's briefly before glancing up to meet her gaze. "That would be you."
"Okay," Abby said with a laugh. "How about punching you in the shoulder and then running away?"
Ziva frowned as she searched for a distant memory. One corner of her mouth twitched upward as the memory came into focus. "The boy who became my best friend - he tried it." Her grin became a full fledged smirk. "Before he could run away, I punched him back. I knocked him down. He did not try it again."
"Of course you did," Abby said with a knowing laugh.
Ziva tilted her head, trying to determine what Abby was thinking. "And what does that mean?"
Abby shrugged. "You're Ziva David, Super Spy, what else would you have done? It's such a typically Ziva thing to do."
"Ah." She was relieved that Abby didn't seem disappointed or upset by what she had done. It was always so hard to determine how she would react to whatever Ziva said or did. Ziva sighed. "Unfortunately that will not work with Tony. If I punched him, he would only continue to call me Probie, or perhaps do it more often and anyway Gibbs would not approve."
The smirk gradually faded off her face as Ziva remembered the last time that she had struck Tony. It had ended with him pinned to the ground with her gun to his chest. As irritated as she may be with him at the moment, she never wanted to be in that situation again. It had been far easier to be angry with him for killing Michael, to accuse him of acting out of jealousy, than to admit that she could have been wrong again. That for a second time her instincts and training had failed her and instead of defending her country and those she loved, she had protected someone who had betrayed her and everything that she believed in.
It had been hard enough, having her faith in Ari shattered, but Michael's betrayal had somehow been worse. Not only because it had been unexpected, but also because her heart had not been in it. She had only been with him to please her father and it had made Michael's actions a dual betrayal. It had raised questions about her father again, just as Ari's death had, and in that moment a second betrayal had been too much for her to even consider. Easier to take it out on Tony.
Abby's fingers on her wrist jerked her out of her dark thoughts and Ziva forced a tight smile that she did not feel across her lips. The sympathy in Abby's eyes told her that the other woman had seen at least some of what she was feeling. Ziva held her gaze, but it was painful, knowing that Abby could so easily see what she was feeling. She held her breath, hoping as she did so, that Abby would not feel the need to talk about it. That was the last thing that she wanted.
But Abby only grinned at her, surprising her with the abrupt shift in emotion. "You know sometimes if the direct approach isn't an option, you have to be more subtle." Her grin turned mischievous. "Sneaky even. And I have the perfect idea, if you're willing to try it."
"Oh?" Ziva inquired, relief flooding her as Abby turned away from the pain that had lain unspoken between them for a moment and returned the conversation to a more neutral topic. "What do you have in mind?"
"Well, you see Corby kept all of his ideas on here, right?" Abby held up the small electronic device. "And he really had some doozies, if you're interested." Her eyes sparkled as she made an offer that she knew the newest NCIS agent couldn't refuse.
"I am interested," Ziva admitted warily. "What is the latch?"
"Catch," Abby corrected. "And there's not much of one." She gave Ziva a look that was entirely too innocent to be believable. "I'm sure we can work something out."
"David!" Tony's exclamation echoed loudly across the room.
Ziva raised the cup of coffee to her lips to hide her smile. "Yes, Tony?" She inquired innocently as she sat the mug back down on her desk and looked up at him.
"What did you do to me?"
Each flash of blue from where pearly whites had once been made it a little bit harder for Ziva to keep the smile off her face.
"What do you mean, Tony?"
"My teeth are blue," he ground the words out slowly. "I know McGee didn't do it; you're the only other possibility."
"Ah, but I am a mere Probie," Ziva reminded him sweetly. "I would not know how to pull off such a difficult and complicated prank."
"Ha!" Tony declared, pointing a triumphant finger at her. "Is that what this is all about, David?" He straightened. "We'll see who laughs last, Probie."
"Indeed," Ziva said with a smug smile. "We will. Smile." She sang out the last word gleefully as she raised her phone and quickly snapped a picture, capturing proof of Tony's bright blue smile for posterity. She flipped the camera around letting him catch a brief glimpse of the telling photo as she stood. Ziva slipped the phone down into her bag as she slung the strap across her shoulder. Standing only inches away from him, Ziva purred. "I will think of that every time you call me Probie."
Tony glared. "Hey! Where are you going?" He called after her as she walked away. "We aren't done here!"
"Oh, but I am." Ziva spared him a glance over her shoulder just before she stepped onto the elevator. "I have a bargain to complete."
"We don't have to do this." Abby said, as she threaded her arm through Ziva's. "I would have helped you anyway," she admitted. "I just thought it would be fun to have a girl's night out, and you took a rain check the last time I asked."
Putting her hand over Abby's, Ziva took a moment to gather her thoughts before she looked up to meet her gaze. "When you asked me, it was not that I did not want to go. I wanted to, very much."
One part of Ziva couldn't believe what she was saying, couldn't believe what she was attempting to do. She had been aware of her attraction to the Goth forensic scientist from the first time that she had seen her. It had taken longer for her to become aware of the deeper feelings that she had developed for Abby. First it had been respect for the other woman's skills. Then it had grown into a protectiveness that rivaled even Gibbs' legendary defense of all those he considered his own. Later still, it had morphed into a close friendship that Ziva had cherished, even if she hadn't always understood Abby or her actions. Eventually it had all come together into something more - an emotion that Ziva barely recognized and had even more rarely experienced.
Most days she hadn't even allowed herself to name her feelings for Abby to herself and she had certainly never allowed herself to act on those feelings. It was too dangerous. Lulled though she might have become by the false sense of security and the safety of distance that NCIS provided her from her father, she hadn't been foolish enough to act on her feelings for Abby.
She was well aware that her father kept her under surveillance and knew of her actions, even ones that were strictly personal. There was no way that he could approve of Abby. Beyond the fact that she was a woman, which was more than enough in the eyes of her father and their faith, Abby was not strong in the sense that her father valued. She was excitable and impractical. She was everything that her father disdained and disapproved of.
When Gibbs and Tony and McGee had come to rescue her from the hands of her captors, Ziva had made a vow to herself that she would not go back. Her father had shown his true colors once more. The first time, with Ari, had been devastating enough, but she had allowed herself to forget over time what she had learned, and see him once more as her beloved father who's approval she yearned to gain. The second time she had been forced to see him as he truly was had been worse, because in a way she had already known what kind of man her father was. Ziva David did not like being made a fool, and she refused to let her father do it to her for a third time.
NCIS was the only way she knew to be free of him and Gibbs the only person she had known to successfully stand up to him. It was also her home. This time, despite the nightmares and everything else that had come with her months of captivity, Ziva felt lighter and more free than she ever had. She could do things that had never been an option before; she simply had to reach out and take the opportunity in front of her.
"Really?" Abby asked, with a frown. "I thought you were just saying that to be nice."
"No." Ziva denied. A combination of dread and fear at the necessary evil of talking to her father and regret at turning Abby down, but niceness had never crossed her mind. She swallowed. If she told Abby the truth it would change everything, at least for her. "I was sending an e-mail to my father, telling him that I was resigning from Mossad and that I would not be returning home for the foreseeable future."
Abby nodded, making her pigtails swing back and forth. "Definitely understandable." She hesitated and then asked, "Have you heard from him since Gibbs and Vance agreed to let you stay?"
Ziva frowned, more at the answer to that question than at its being asked. "No, I have not." It worried her a little that she hadn't. He should have at least called her to express his displeasure. He was very good at that.
Her father, however, was not what she wanted to talk about tonight. She stopped walking abruptly and turned to face Abby. "Many things have changed now that I am no longer Mossad," Ziva explained in a rush. "Some of them, I will miss. Others I am very happy about." She took a deep breath and then plunged on. "I would like to ask you out sometime - if you are interested."
"You mean, like on a date?" Abby clarified.
"Yes." Ziva replied, striving to keep her response neutral.
Abby tilted her head and looked down as Ziva struggled to decipher her expression. "I didn't know you felt that way about me. I mean...." She gave a little shrug. "I thought there might be something there - once, you know, I kind of stopped hating you - but you never said anything."
"I could not say anything," Ziva admitted, suddenly finding it an effort to keep her voice from cracking over the last word. "Even though I wished too, many times. My father would not have approved, and at best, I would have been summoned back to my country against my will. I could not risk that he would go farther than that." She shook her head at the thought of the worst he could do. She had always told herself that her father wouldn't actually go so far as to hurt Abby if she defied him in this, but given what she had learned of him recently, she was no longer sure. Only the freedom that came from no longer belonging to Mossad gave her the courage to do this now, or at least to attempt it.
Silence reigned for a moment in the wake of Ziva's explanation. She tried too ignore the way her stomach roiled in anxiety as she waited for what Abby would say.
"But you can now?"
"Yes," Ziva said with a nod.
"Okay." Abby said, a smile breaking across her face.
"Okay?" Ziva questioned, unable to keep the hopeful lilt out of her voice.
"Okay, I'd like to go on a date with you sometime."
"Oh." Had she really expected Abby to say no? She had certainly not expected her to say yes. Her moment's surprise was quickly being replaced by joy and heady relief. She felt like dancing, like the first time she had exceeded her father's expectations or earned a "good job" from Gibbs.
"That's all? Oh?" Abby asked, bemused.
Ziva took a step closer. "Not all, no." When Abby didn't move away, Ziva raised her hand gently, reaching out to touch Abby's cheek with the tips of two fingers, as Abby had done hers when she first returned to NCIS. Her skin was soft and a little bit cool as they stood out in the night air. "There are many things that I would like to tell you."
Abby swallowed, her gaze locked on Ziva's. She was unable and unwilling to break the connection that had sprung up between them in that moment. "Tell me."
Ziva smiled and moved her thumb to caress Abby's cheek. "You're beautiful." It was the emotion in the two simple words that made them more than just a mundane compliment. "And you're the strangest person that I know. You do things that I do not understand, and you care about too much about people. I love that about you. I have never met anyone like you and I want to get to know you better. You show me things I have never even considered."
"Wow," Abby said softly into the silence that followed Ziva's words. "You're always defying my expectations, Ziva David." Her laugh rang out in the crisp night air, and impulsively she leaned over and pressed her lips against Ziva's cheek.
The most telling sentence of Ziva's confession hadn't escaped her notice. I love that about you. She wasn't certain that Ziva realized what she had said. There was of course, the possibility that Ziva knew exactly what she had said. Either way, Abby didn't know what to make of it yet. Better to let it lie. Intentional or not, it showed the depth of Ziva's feelings for her. Abby was only beginning to process everything that Ziva had said, but she knew already that this was no casual thing for Ziva.
Her feelings for Ziva lacked the depth that came with time and thought, but there had always been something more between she and Ziva than mere friendship could explain. It was definitely something that Abby wanted to explore.
"That is a good thing, yes?" Ziva asked softly.
Abby wondered if she was aware of the way her hand had come up to touch the place on her cheek that Abby had just kissed. It was cute.
"Very good," Abby agreed, as she tucked herself against Ziva's side and threaded her arm through Ziva's once more. "Still up for a girl's night out, Agent David?"
Ziva glanced over at her, looking surprised. "I would like that very much."
"Good. Because I'm feeling the urge to dance and I need someone who can keep up with me. Think you can do that?"
The confident grin that flitted across Ziva's lips made Abby's heart skip a beat. "Oh, I think so."
Abby laughed again, tugging her forward into the darkness. This was going to be fun. She had no idea how this night would end, but Abby was confident that whatever happened, it would be a night she would remember for many years to come.