Abby came at her like a whirlwind of squealing, engulfing Ziva in a hug as she walked toward where the team had been sitting. It had been a busy and emotionally trying morning with a long ceremony, but Ziva managed to brace herself for impact. The Goth squeezed her even tighter than she had when she walked into NCIS in September, literally back from the dead. Abby finally released her, and took a step back, hands clasped together as she practically bounced with excitement.
"Now, you can stay forever! They can never make you go back!"
"You might want to take it down an octave, Abs, dogs are going to start barking soon," Tony said, getting a hold on her, so McGee and Ducky could congratulate and hug Ziva.
"Well done, my dear. It'll be good for the team to have some stability," Ducky said, wrapping her in a hug.
"Thank you, Ducky. I agree, stability would be nice." Not having to worry if she'd be recalled to Mossad, or more recently, that she might be denied citizenship and deported back to Israel, would let her really relax for the first time in almost five years.
"I could not agree more," Tim said, hugging her. "Congratulations Ziva."
"Hey Probie, is Officer Lisa getting US Citizenship too?"
"No Tony, it's loosely based, not a play by play of our lives." McGee rolled his eyes.
"So, you're telling me the rumors I read online about Officer Lisa being missing and presumed dead in the next book, and Agent Tommy's desperate global search for her is all buck?" Tony asked, grinning.
"Like I said, loosely."
Now it was Tony's turn to roll his eyes, as he made his way to Ziva, an almost suggestive smile spread across his face. A typical DiNozzo smile. His hug was tentative at first, the easy affection they had with each other not quite returned yet. When she didn't pull away, he tightened his arms around her, and Ziva allowed herself to relax against him.
"I never thought I'd be so happy to sit through a boring government ceremony," he said, his lips barely inches from her ear.
"At least you got to sit," she quipped, having stood at attention the entire time.
He chuckled, and instead of replying placed a soft, not entirely platonic kiss on her cheek. Ziva hid her initial surprise behind a smile that only took a minute to become genuine.
"Let's go to Ducky's!" Abby said, bouncing beside McGee. "We've got a party to have!"
"We told her no balloons, right?" Tony asked McGee.
"Uh yeah, we negotiated down to streamers and cake."
"Yeah, it was either that or hats." McGee shot him a meaningful look.
"You guys go ahead, we'll meet you there," Gibbs instructed, moving to beside Ziva.
Ziva turned to him surprised, and saw her expression mirrored in the team. Gibbs made no attempt to explain, just nodded them toward the door.
"Well, you heard the boss, let's go," Tony took control, and began to usher everyone out, with a last look back and a nod to his boss.
"What is going on?" She was completely at a loss. True, Gibbs was the only one who hadn't congratulated her yet, but she sensed something more was going on.
"Let's go for a walk." Gibbs rested a hand on her back, and guided her toward the door.
They walked out, shielding their eyes from the blazing spring sunlight, and mingling in with the tourists on the mall. They walked down the street, and turned onto the footpath that wrapped around the Tidal Basin, the breeze from the water and passing over them in a cool rush, whipping Ziva's hair into her face. She fought her curls--she'd gone with curls under Abby's urging--as Gibbs watched her with an amused smile. He led her past the Jefferson Memorial, walking like a man without a destination, and Ziva just followed silently. She was almost surprised when he finally stopped, and gestured her to a bench that overlooked the Basin.
They sat for a minute, staring at the water churning and flowing with the river tide, before Gibbs finally decided to speak. "You make it look so easy."
Ziva frowned, not understanding. "I studied a lot."
Gibbs smiled. "Not what I meant, Ziver."
She couldn't hide the sharp intake of breath at the nickname. He hadn't used it since...in almost a year.
"I meant, leaving everything you knew behind. Starting over."
"I'd already lived in America for four years, it is not that foreign," she said, dodging the point she knew he was trying to make.
Gibbs sighed. "In the Marines, we used to say we bled red, white and blue." He paused. "You're not just adding an extra color, Ziva."
She swallowed and looked away, down at her lap. "I do miss Israel."
Gibbs used to fingers to bring her chin back up, so she was looking at him, and spoke softly, and slowly so she'd get it. "That's okay."
She blinked away the moisture forming in her eyes. "I am grateful to be here, Gibbs."
"I know that."
"I...I do not regret my service in Mossad. I know it seems horrific to you and the others, but I was serving my country. I loved my country...I still do. But, I do not know that I will ever see it again." She'd gotten control of her tears for the moment, and took a deep breath in to maintain it.
"You think Eli will try something if you go back?"
She shrugged, her eyes watering slightly again. "I do not know, but it is not a theory I want to test."
The idea that her own father...it was still difficult to accept.
Gibbs nodded, and reached inside his blazer--he was actually wearing a button-down shirt for the occasion, not a polo and t-shirt. He pulled out a black velveteen box that was a little bigger than a ring box, and handed it to her without a word.
Ziva's eyes widened, unprepared for the gesture, but managed to take the box without dropping it. "Gibbs, I--"
"Open it," he cut her off.
She did as she was told, and pulled the lid open with a little gasp at the contents. "Gibbs, I could not--"
He cut her off again. "Sure you can. Just say thank you, and put it on."
Ziva closed her mouth and smiled at that, of course Gibbs would decide it was that simple. She studied the small white gold Star of David, and noted the deep blue-green stone set in the middle. "Is this Eilat?"
"Yep. The jeweler assured me that it was mined in Israel." Not that he would have known the difference, he hadn't even ever heard of the stone until the jeweler mentioned it. When the older man had told him that it was the official stone of Israel, he'd known he'd found exactly what he needed.
"It is beautiful. Thank you, Gibbs."
He took the box, and motioned her to turn around. She turned so she was facing away from him, and pulled her hair off her neck, allowing Gibbs to slip the chain around her neck and fasten the clasp. Ziva let her hair drop, and turned back to face him, glancing at the pendent, allowing her fingers to trace it.
Gibbs leaned close, so their faces were inches apart. "Israel will always be your first home, and you can carry it with you always, but we're all happy to be your new one."
Ziva nodded, once again fighting to maintain her composure. Then he pressed a kiss to her forehead, and held her close as he whispered in her ear. "I'm proud of you, Ziver."
Then she lost the battle, and gave off a little hiccup as tears began to slowly run down her cheeks. He held her until her eyes dried and she regained herself, and then Ziva pulled away, sniffling. Then she smiled, dabbing at her eyes. "If you ruined my make-up Abby is going to kills us."
Gibbs chuckled. "Come on, we've got a party to get to."
I wrote this one, because I think Ziva's going through more shit than she's getting credit for. Leaving your country and swearing allegiance to another isn't like throwing out an old dress for a new one. Especially when you've fought and bled for your country since you were a kid. And, I love Gibbs/Ziva moments. :)
My hiatus has officially come to an end. However, I'll be taking the GRE (grad school exam for the US) next month, so I'll be in a rather intense, time-consuming relationship with my study materials. Updates will likely be sporadic.
Thanks for reading, and please review!