A/N: This...barely has a plot, BUT it's on the lighter side, which is good, because I was depressing myself with all the angst. Enjoy and please review!
"Vengeance will often tear the heart and torment the conscience."
~Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860
"Why won't she talk?" Tony hissed as he dragged Ziva in Gibb's kitchen. "What's wrong with her?"
Ziva pulled her arm out of his tight grasp, frowning at him. "You are intimidating her. She is frightened. What happened to good old fashioned 'DiNozzo charm'?"
"Aha! So you admit I have it!" At his partner's raised eyebrow, he cleared his throat and added simply, "She's technically a suspect."
Ziva rolled her eyes. "Never stopped you before," she muttered, glancing back at Leyla and her daughter, who were now heading up the stairs. When she turned to face Tony once more, he was giving her another one of his penetrating looks, as though that single look would convey everything he wanted to say but couldn't.
"Things change," he informed her matter-of-factly. She held his gaze for a moment, almost afraid to move.
Sometimes, it frightened her to think she might live for moments like this.
"Let me talk to her," she said finally, the first to break the tension. Or, maybe not, because it was never really gone, the tension, only moved to the background, ignored until the day came that it was no longer anything that could be ignored.
Tony snorted. "You? Since when do you understand women? Need I remind you of the Hysterics Incident of '06?"
Ziva narrowed her eyes. "Like you said, things change."
"Touché." Tony sighed, running a hand through his hair. "All right, as your Senior Field Agent, I give you permission to take the lead."
"Sock it, DiNozzo," Ziva said, rolling her eyes.
Tony smiled indulgently. "'Stuff it,' I believe, is the phrase you're looking for," he corrected. "Or perhaps 'Put a sock in it'?" Ziva's glare deepened.
"Oh, kiss my ass."
A frown appeared on Tony's face. "You would get that one right."
His partner merely smiled and exited the kitchen, flipping him off as she went.
Leyla was putting Amira down in the makeshift bed when Ziva entered the room, leaning on the doorframe. She watched as Leyla kissed her daughter's forehead.
"I know it looks bad, Agent David," she said as she turned to exit the room.
Ziva once more relished in the feeling of being an agent before saying, "Yes. It does." She paused. "I am…sorry, if Tony disturbed you. He can be an ass when he is looking for the truth." She laughed. "Actually, he can really just be an ass."
Leyla smiled faintly. "Have you been partners long?"
"Four years, I believe, it is now," she said quietly. "He is a good man, though the last few months have been…rough."
For a moment, Ziva considered telling the woman, debated spilling her guts to this complete stranger. It was something Old Ziva would never have considered.
But she was New Ziva now, and she was still trying to figure out what New Ziva did, wanted, felt.
In the end, she simply shook her head. "It is…a long story. Besides," she added. "We should probably talk about you."
Leyla's face fell. "Ah, yes," she said sadly. She let her eyes find Ziva's. "Do you have any children, Ms. David?"
"Ziva," she replied. "And no. I do not."
"Boyfriend does not want any?"
The words were oddly painful to hear, and Ziva found she could do no more than nod and lie, "Something like that."
"Then you will not understand," Leyla said defeated. She paused, gathering courage. "You do not know what it is like to see two strange men pointing guns at your daughter—your-your only life." She glanced at Ziva. "I do not remember most of it. I simply remember seeing the men and the guns at Amira, and suddenly the riffle was in my hand, and I was shooting, shooting, shooting. There was nothing I could do to stop it, nor did I want to. I thought they would kill my daughter."
Ziva was silent for a moment, studying Leyla. Memories of guns and bleeding lovers and the need to killkillkill passed quickly through her mind. Gently, she placed a hand on Leyla's shoulder.
"I have never had any children, so I do not know the bond between a mother and her child," she said slowly, "but if there is anything I do know about, it is loss. And revenge. And the desire to keeping people…safe."
Ziva paused, thinking this over. She wondered for a moment if that was her problem, if that was why she could not seem to function as a normal person: so stuck was she, somewhere between grief and vengeance.
"I have lost…many people in my life. My mother, my half-brother, my dear sister Tali. Many friends and a few…" she struggled to find the appropriate term, "loves. And late at night I have dreamed up ways I might saved them." Looking at Leila once again, she finished quietly, "So I do understand. And I do not blame you."
Leyla sighed, relieved. "Thank you…Ziva. You are very kind."
"No," Ziva denied, frowning, her mind drifting to the summer. "Not so kind."
Leyla opened her mouth to say more but was interrupted as DiNozzo called upstairs, "Eh, sweet cheeks, come down here! I need to talk to you!"
Ziva sighed and shook her head, catching Leyla's eye as if to say, 'Men.'
"You should get down to your boyfriend," Leyla said more cheerily. "He does not seem the patient type."
Ziva laughed, almost correcting the girl's mistake, but something that had been buried too long and too deeply inside her chest made her stop. Instead, she smiled and said, "Yes, he is the most impatient made I have ever met."
"I am coming, I am coming, Tony! Keep your shoes on!" Ziva said as she slinked down the stairs, turning to wink at Leyla.
"'Pants,' Probie. It's definitely 'pants,'" Tony corrected her as she reached the bottom floor.
Winking at him, Ziva smirked. "I know."