Tagged to episode 9x11 "Newborn King." I kinda have mixed feelings about this chapter – is it too boring?
"It's okay," Ziva tells Gibbs. "I got this covered," and she slips outside to fight off the two Russian hit-men while he stays inside the abandoned gas station to deliver Lieutenant Reynolds's baby.
She tells herself that it's the best choice, that after all these years, she still isn't any better around emotional women, much less ones who are giving birth. But beneath that, Ziva can't help imagining how it would be if she was the one who was pregnant and racked by labor pains, counting on Gibbs's calm, steady countenance to get her through it. And it shocks her that she's almost jealous of Lieutenant Reynolds.
Ziva tries to push the image out of her mind as she creeps through the falling snow to the Russian's van, but she can see it all so clearly... herself in a hospital bed, sweat glistening on her forehead, with Gibbs at her side, holding her hand and keeping her focused as only he can.
The image keeps popping into her head, distracting her, and snowflakes stick to her eyelashes and melt, blurring her vision. It's much longer and harder than it should be for her to take out the last Russian hit-man. Eventually she throws away her weapon and takes him down the old-fashioned way, but not before he gets in a good kick to her ribs that knocks all the wind out of her. And it saddens her that she still has so much more experience with taking life than with bringing it into the world.
She doesn't protest when Gibbs makes her ride to the hospital with Lieutenant Reynolds and the baby when the ambulance finally reaches them through the snow. The doctors x-ray her, poke and prod, and finally put a binding on her ribs, give a prescription for some strong painkillers, and tell her that can go home as long as she takes it easy for the next few days.
Gibbs finds her, as he always does, after the doctor leaves. She's lying on a gurney with her eyes closed – not asleep, but just resting from all that's happened – when he pulls back the curtain. Ziva keeps her eyes closed and thinks it must be another nurse wanting to check on her, but then she feels Gibbs's hand on her head, stroking her hair.
She opens her eyes and carefully sits up, wincing just a little, but of course Gibbs notices. He frowns when she tells him what the doctor said – that she's free to go, as long as she takes it easy for a while.
"You're sure?" Gibbs asks, a bit skeptically. "No ribs broken?"
Ziva shakes her head. "Just bruised."
Without warning, Gibbs lifts up the hem of her shirt to see for himself. He looks closely at the dark bruises and the binding the doctor put on her ribs, and Ziva makes no move to stop him, but it mildly annoys her. Gibbs is the one who still insists they can't go public with their relationship, but in private, he does things like pull her shirt up without asking her. But Ziva patiently lets him look for as long as he wants, until finally he lets go of her shirt and lets it fall back down across her torso.
She is grateful, though, when Gibbs gives her a ride – not back to her apartment, but to his place. "You're stayin' with me till you're better," he tells her in the car, and Ziva smiles. She'd never admit it, but she loves the idea of sleeping in Gibbs's bed and letting him take care of her until her ribs have healed. But then he adds, "And I want you to stay home tomorrow night."
Ziva looks at him sharply. "We are having dinner with Leyla and Amira tomorrow night."
"Leyla will understand, Ziver." She sighs, frustrated, and falls silent, gazing through the car window at the patches of snow on the sidewalk. Gibbs's brow furrows with worry. That Russian must've slammed her around harder than he thought if she's not even going to argue with him. "I'll take DiNozzo," he adds. He isn't sure where that idea came from, but he knows it's a good one. Ziva obviously doesn't think so, though; she looks at him doubtfully, and he just says, "It'll be good for him."
The painkillers make her sleepy, so she goes straight to his bedroom when they reach his place, and he follows. With her ribs so badly bruised, she can't raise her arms very high, so Gibbs carefully helps her undress. She shakes her head when he starts to get her pajamas out of his dresser – more and more of her clothes have been migrating to his house over the past few months – and climbs into his bed in just her bra and panties. Gibbs offers to unclasp her Star of David necklace, which she usually takes off before she sleeps, but she touches the pendant and quietly tells him no, she wants to keep it on tonight.
He tucks the blanket around her and cups his palm against her cheek. "You get some rest, Ziver," he tells her. She nods obediently, and Gibbs leans in and kisses her lips. She looks so tired that Gibbs is sure she falls asleep before he can even turn off the light as he leaves the room.
She's exhausted from the fight, and her ribs are sore, but sleep doesn't come. She lies in bed, thinking, and Lieutenant Reynolds's words replay in her head. I guess someone else had other plans. Ziva remembers how she touched the cross on her necklace when she said it, and her fingers go to the Star of David around her own throat. Other plans. Lieutenant Reynolds had never planned on having a baby with an Afghan man in a war zone, just as Ziva had never planned on leaving Mossad, becoming an American citizen, and most surprisingly, being in a relationship with Gibbs. But here she is, a full-fledged NCIS agent – not even probationary anymore – in America, in Gibbs's bed, breaking Rule 12 with the very man who created it.
There was a time, not too long ago, when Ziva never would have believed she'd be here. So maybe the scenarios that seem so impossible to her now might also come true one day. She and Gibbs going public with their relationship, maybe even getting married or having a baby. Ziva imagines cradling a newborn against her breast, a tiny boy or girl with dark, curly hair like hers and Gibbs's blue eyes. If she's already done so many things that she never thought she would do in her life, then why should she be so quick to write off a baby?
Then she smiles into her pillow as another image pops into her head – the shocked wide eyes and open mouths on the guys' faces when they find out about her and Gibbs.
Gibbs stays awake a bit longer, reheats some leftovers for a late dinner – very late – and takes a shower. Then he slips into his bedroom quietly, to avoid waking Ziva, but when he climbs into bed, he sees that she's still wide-awake, and he can tell that she hasn't slept at all. She hasn't been sleeping very well since their trip to Afghanistan. For several nights, right after they got back, she opened her eyes from a deep sleep, sat up in bed with a start, and looked all around the room, like she didn't know where she was. It always woke Gibbs up too, when this happened, and he would hold her and ask her if she wanted to talk about it. But she never did, and eventually Gibbs stopped asking and just held her until she could sleep again. Now, though, he sees her awake and worries. What has she been thinking about, lying here in the dark for so long?
"You okay?" he asks her. Ziva doesn't answer right away, but the sheets rustle as she moves closer to him in the dark. She clings to him and buries her face in his neck in a strange, vulnerable way that concerns him. Gibbs doesn't see her like this often. His arms go around her, careful not to hurt her ribs, and hold her close.
When Ziva finally speaks, her voice is contemplative, as if she's been rehearsing what to say. "I was thinking, Gibbs," she says, her voice slightly muffled against his neck, "2012 will be here soon. A new year. And I think... 2012 will be the year for us, yes?"
She doesn't elaborate on what she means by that, but Gibbs thinks he has a pretty good idea. She's patiently agreed to keep their relationship a secret for this long, but Gibbs knew one day, she would insist things had to change. He takes a deep breath and runs a hand through her hair, which smells like the sandalwood shampoo she uses. It still surprises him that just having Ziva curl up against him as she sleeps can, in some ways, be better than sex.
He can't see her eyes – it's too dark and she still has her face buried in his neck, anyway – but he knows that she's waiting for his answer. So he kisses her hair and says, his voice quiet but perfectly clear, "Yeah, Ziver, 2012 will be our year. I promise."
And Gibbs feels her smile against his neck as she finally drifts off to sleep.
I know some of you probably wanted to see Gibbs and Ziva "go public" with their relationship, but I feel like I've reached a good stopping point here, so I'm marking this story as "complete" for now. I might return to it in the future to write more – it depends on where the rest of Season 9 takes us! Many thanks to everyone who read and reviewed. This was my first time writing Zibbs, and your encouragement meant so much!