A/N: This is my sort of tag to Good Cop, Bad Cop, taking place before she's given her agent status, but after her conversation with Gibbs in interrogation. I don't have much else to say other than I hope you like it! Keep the peace, much much love, Kit.

DISCLAIMER: I suggest listening to the Hamster Dance.

"Personal Effects"

He watches her silently, standing just outside her line of sight. She's sitting at her desk doing nothing as far as he can tell, merely sitting, perhaps thinking. Thinking and breathing and being . . . .

He steps forward, clearing his throat, wincing when she startles, her chair rolling backward with her sudden flinch. "Sorry," he says quickly, without much thought, a simple reflex to atone for frightening her. Frightening Ziva. That notion seems so very very wrong.

She doesn't offer a verbal acknowledgement, but her dark eyes are closed off and wary as she regards the evidence box balanced in his arms. There's an uncomfortable twinge in his chest as he realizes that he is partially responsible for the reticence in her gaze, the caginess that shadows her face . . . . He bestows his patent grin upon her, infusing warmth and reassurance into his expression, as he transfers his burden onto her desk. She doesn't know if she should be irritated or intrigued, instead opting to quirk an eyebrow in mild confusion.

"Just thought, you know, that I should return what's yours," he explains with a casual shrug, but she can see the tension in his shoulders. With another quick smile and nod, he retreats from her desk, leaving her alone again with her thoughts and his rendition of a truce.

She stands up after the elevator ding denotes his departure, hovering hesitantly over the inoffensive box before her. And she abhors the slight trembling in her hands as she makes to remove the lid.

Her breath catches and she's suddenly exhausted.

Because resting in the embrace of cardboard are only common, meaningless things. A stapler, a thin box of pencils, a handful of disposable pens. A role of tape and its dispenser, a pack of spearmint gum and . . . . An odd warm feeling settles in the pit of her stomach as she lifts a dented Altoids tin from the jumble of random objects. Because these seemingly generic things are not quite so impersonal. Because that Altoids tin is full of paperclips. Because the objects in the box are not some random stranger's.

They're hers.

She bites her lower lip, brow furrowing as she unearths a turquoise mug, the handle chipped from an accident involving McGee and a wet floor circa two years prior. There is even a lipstick stain faint at the rim while the bottom of the mug sports a ring of residual coffee . . . . And then she finds her planner, the smooth black cover familiar in her fingers. She thumbs it open to the dog-eared page, her neat print filling in the date blocks with things she needed to do the month of May. She frowns, noticing that she missed a hair appointment . . . . She flips through the next few weeks, instants in her life that she will never ever get back, her handwriting carefully detailing her everyday and all the things she had planned in advance. Her eyes are drawn to a Thursday in late July, the date starred in purple ink.

A lump forms in her throat when she realizes she missed Tony's birthday.

She lays the planner aside, placing it in the company of a few take-out menus and business cards, returning to the remainder of the treasure.

There's a crumpled paper airplane and several balled up pieces of paper –literally everything that had been left in her desk is in the box. A gum wrapper, a hairbrush, rubber bands and hair ties. A bottle of Tylenol and spare change she reserved for the vending machine. And she nearly laughs out loud when she comes across the blue toothbrush she kept in the bottom left drawer, for emergencies.

The Handbook of American Slang and her old apartment key, glittering silver beside her extra pair of sunglasses.

The holster to her on duty weapon.

A tampon, a compact, a box of band aids.

At the bottom of the box is her back-up set of clothes; a folded pair of cargo pants and black cotton t-shirt, a fresh pair of underwear and a clean sports bra. The only garments of clothing that survived the explosion aside from what was on her back at the time . . . . Her iPod. Oh, her iPod! Her music, her familiar music, songs she loves, something to cling to. Something that makes her happy, gives her a simple pleasure: redemption in the form of music. And it's oddly surreal, seeing bits and pieces of her old life, her new life spread out across her desk top.

A copy of Deep Six and she forgot she had kept that in her filing cabinet.

A candy cane still wrapped in cellophane, a Christmas present from Abby, surely. And a little foam rubber stress ball, a minute replica of Earth, that Tony had given her once as a joke. There's a bat-shaped eraser and a plastic spork and a oatmeal raisin granola bar.

She locates a movie ticket stub, squinting to read the tiny print, finding November 29th 2008 stamped across the top of the little square. It had been Tony's idea to go to the theater, a sort of escape from the past week of deceit as well as the second part of her three part birthday surprise. And Slumdog Millionaire had been the last movie she had seen.

She becomes aware of the dampness on her cheeks when a wayward teardrop lands on the papers scattered across her desk. And she barely registers her emotional state before she presses her fist to her mouth, totally dissolving into tears. Again.

Because Gibbs is right.

And she is finally, finally, home.

Right where she belongs.