The new season of NCIS is starting tomorrow and what better way to celebrate than with a new romance featuring Ziva and Gibbs? =) This one is AU in that Ziva does not work at NCIS and has lived in the States since she was ten years old. While she is still very much Ziva, you will find I've given her more familiarity with idioms and contractions since she's lived here much longer and went to school here. Her family structure has also been changed for this fic, just for a little different flavor. This is will be a fairly long multi-chap and the rating will definitely be going up. ^_^
The new avatar is in honor of this posting; I think it's perfect. THANKS and hugs to iyimgrace for sharing her talent and for her willingness to play with these for me. You'll see a couple of other variations on this one as the story progresses.
This fic is dedicated to all my fellow coffee-drinking addicts - er, um, pals. I hesitate to start naming names for fear of leaving someone out, but you know who you are. Feel free to identify yourselves in your review. :D I hope you enjoy this and that you'll let me know if you do.
Gibbs strode purposefully down the sidewalk holding the cup of coffee he'd just purchased. It was mid-morning and things had been slow enough at work that he'd walked a few blocks to a diner he liked to pick up a large to-go cup of the rich dark brew that sustained him like the air he breathed instead of hitting the java stand near NCIS as he usually did.
He hadn't been to the diner in several weeks and the old Marine cook who owned the place had been glad to see him. The feeling was mutual.
He decided to take a different way back to work, prolonging his outing for a bit. He was a man of action and sitting while doing paperwork made him irritable, even if it was a necessary evil in his line of work. He automatically scanned his surroundings as he walked, not even realizing he was doing it.
Up ahead a woman was on a ladder, hanging some type of sign outside a shop that he hadn't noticed before. Suddenly, he saw the ladder teeter as some young guys jostled each other playfully, not even realizing they had bumped the ladder hard enough to tip it. Gibbs could see the ladder was headed for a fall, as was the woman clinging to it.
He broke into a run as the urge to help kicked in. She was facing his direction and he could see the trepidation on her face. Luckily, he wasn't far away. As he ran, he tossed his new cup of coffee into the nearest trash can to free his hands. He planted his feet and placed both hands on the ladder and managed to steady it. Glancing up, his gaze was arrested by a pair of the most beautiful brown eyes he'd ever seen.
The woman on the ladder had clearly been bracing herself for the fall and now was trying to steady herself and her racing heart. The brilliant blue eyes looking up at her did not help slow her heart rate, but for a completely different reason.
After staring back at her savior for a moment, Ziva mentally shook herself and climbed down the ladder. Gibbs retained his grip on the opposite side while she did.
After her feet were firmly on the ground, she looked up at him with a small smile. "Thank you for saving me from a nasty fall."
His endearing half-smile peeked out. "Glad I was in the right place at the right time."
They gazed at each other for a moment.
Her smile widening a bit, the woman held out her hand. "So am I. My name is Ziva."
"Gibbs. Jethro Gibbs," he answered, shaking her hand and holding it just a moment longer than strictly necessary.
"I see that you even sacrificed your coffee to assist me," she said, nodding her head toward the garbage can where his cup lay on top. "The least I can do is replace it."
For the first time he noticed that they were standing in front of one of those modern coffee shops, the ones that sold coffee disguised under such names as lattes and espresso. The ball cap on her head that covered her dark hair read Brewed Awakenings, as did the sign above the door. The vinyl sign that Ziva had been hanging announced that a book discussion group would be starting this coming Friday night.
He shook his head. "Thanks, but that's OK," he replied, managing to avoid blurting out that he just liked his coffee strong and black and he seriously doubted the place had anything for his simple tastes.
Those whiskey-brown eyes twinkled knowingly. "Don't worry; I won't give you anything with whipped cream or a fancy name."
His half-grin pulled up one side of his cheek, his eyes meeting hers. "That obvious, huh?"
She laughed lightly. The sound was as captivating as her attractively accented voice. "I know coffee drinkers as well as I know coffee. Come on."
She grabbed the ladder, refusing his help with it, though graciously thanked him for holding the door. She placed the ladder out of the way and went behind the counter where a young co-worker was replenishing the glass cases with fresh baked goods.
Ziva set about pouring a large to-go cup of coffee for Jethro, then turned to add something to it. He started to protest, but she threw him a disarming smile and wink over her shoulder.
"Trust me," she said as she gave the coffee a quick stir.
Turning back to him she offered him the cup, still smiling. "I think you will like this, but if you really do not, I promise to pour you another cup without adding a little extra of my secret ingredient."
Her smile turned into a smirk as he took the cup almost gingerly and sniffed before he took a drink. Wow. That was quite possibly the best cup of coffee he'd ever tasted. A satisfied smile curved her lips as she read the pleased surprise on his face.
"What's the secret ingredient?" he asked.
"Now, if I told you that, you could simply make it yourself," she teased as she placed a lid on the cup, "and then you would have no reason to come back."
A sizzling look of awareness zinged between them.
"Oh, I can think of at least one reason," he murmured with an appreciative look.
An adorable light blush heated her cheeks even as she murmured back, "Well, that is good to hear."
Just then a noisy crowd entered the shop and headed straight for the counter. Jethro reluctantly felt pressured to move on.
"Thanks for the coffee," he said, saluting her with the cup.
"Thank you for being my hero," Ziva returned. "Perhaps I will see you again soon."
"Count on it," Jethro said and headed back to work.
Over the next few days, Jethro managed to drop in nearly every day. Ziva always stopped whatever she was doing and waited on him personally, preparing a cup of coffee exactly like she had that first day. They chatted a little, but there was not usually much time for an extended conversation. She did discover that he worked nearby as an agent for the investigative service for the Navy and Marine Corp.
Today was Saturday, however, and Jethro didn't have to work. He found himself thinking about Ziva and decided to head to the coffee shop even though he wasn't at the Navy Yard just down the street. Today he took his cup, grabbed a paper and settled in at a table in the corner, looking up from time to time to find her eyes on him. His little smile had her heart tripping.
The shop was very busy this morning. He knew that was good for business, but it made for little time to talk. After he couldn't prolong his visit any further without looking ridiculous, he headed up to the counter during a lull in customers for a refill to go. He managed to time it so that he could catch Ziva alone behind the counter.
After taking the cup she'd just filled, he leaned against the counter with studied casualness.
"So, does your boss ever give you time off?" he asked.
"Occasionally," Ziva acknowledged coyly. "What did you have in mind?"
"Maybe dinner?" he asked, looking into her eyes.
"I would like that," she said quietly, her eyes bright with anticipation. She opened her mouth to say more, but was cut off by a young woman who came through the swinging doors behind her, carrying a tray.
"Boss, did you decide yet where you wanted the new desserts to go?" she asked.
Ziva turned her head and answered the young woman, then turned back to Gibbs, mischief in her eyes.
He had the grace to look a little sheepish, even as he admired the fact that she had totally played him.
"When were you planning to tell me you are the boss?" he asked.
She placed her elbows on the counter so she was leaning toward him.
"Probably around the time you stopped assuming I wasn't," she grinned unabashedly, her delight clearly apparent.
His head went back with a laugh, then tilted to the side once in affirmation that he was busted.
"Still interested in having dinner with me?" he asked.
"Oh, it takes more than that to scare me away, Special Agent Gibbs," she answered, her eyes twinkling.
"Good to know," he nodded, enjoying himself immensely with this woman who intrigued him on so many levels.
They made plans for the next night, as Ziva closed the shop early on Sundays and Jethro was off the whole weekend. Neither could remember the last time they were this eager to see someone again.