A/N:This just came to me this morning and I had to write it. Just a little tag to an episode I never get tired of. Set in an AU post Shell Shock (Part II).
Spoiler: Truth or Consequences.
Disclaimer: I only own Maggie Hopkins.
Even after they'd been together - and she was talking officially together, not just the months upon months where they existed undefined together without anyone knowing, but officially together, as in they'd told Gibbs, they'd both been head slapped to Nebraska, they'd signed pages upon pages of paperwork disclaiming the Navy from any responsibility should their personal relations get them into any trouble - she still didn't fully glimpse all of his feelings for her – the extent that they'd always been – until she met Special Agent Maggie Hopkins.
Ziva had just logged back onto her computer after sitting in interrogation all day, trying to get a drug trafficking suspect to talk. It had gotten physical at a couple of different points and she knew she'd have some blotches of blue and purple in just a few hours. She was exhausted and wanted nothing more than her couch, a bottle of wine and Tony's –
"Let's roll, David!" The agent in mention strode past her desk, backpack on shoulder and eyes twinkling with that we're-going-to-catch-someone-red-handed sparkle, "Abby just connected it to Commander Mullins."
She groaned, but pushed herself up from her chair and slung her own bag over her shoulder, wincing as the heavy load made contact with a sensitive spot.
"McGee, you go," Gibbs barked. "Ziver, catch."
With that, a cold pack landed in her hands and she sunk back into her chair, placing the ice pack on her shoulder. Slowly the tension seeped from her body and she dared to momentarily rest her head against the back of her chair and close her eyes.
She just needed two minutes of –
The ding of the elevator convinced her that voluntary napping in the bullpen was something she wasn't going to start making a habit of now.
And then there was the collective gasp of excitement that came from Tony and McGee that caused her to turn in her seat and fix her eyes on the reunion that was currently going on in front of the elevator.
"DiNozzo! McGee! What an awesome surprise!" The exclamation came from a short statured brunette who remarkably resembled herself when she'd first stepped off that NCIS elevator for the first time. The brunette currently squeezing the life out of Tony looked desert-swept, her Italian-American skin clearly darkened by prolonged exposure to the sun. Her wavy hair slipped from the colored headband as she moved from one seemingly enamored Special Agent from the next.
Ziva couldn't take her eyes off of the situation – there were serious beams of glee and delight coming from McGee and Tony. It was like they couldn't believe their eyes.
She didn't know this woman, at least, all working memory told her that she didn't, but something inside her gut told her that she did. There was something about this girl…she couldn't place it, but it was there.
"Will you guys be back?" She asked. "I want to catch up and hear about stuff…"
"Uh, yeah," McGee said, "We're just going to make a clean-cut arrest – shouldn't take long –"
"Hey, come with us," Tony playfully jabbed her in the shoulder and then looked over the partition towards, "Gibbs, okay if Maggie comes with us?"
Gibbs smirked, that sly, all-knowing look that he only gave in regards to people he really liked, "Go get 'em, Hopkins."
And then the three musketeers stepped back into the elevator, laughing and chatting and smiling and it shouldn't have bothered her that this woman – girl, she looked only like a girl, made Tony and McGee happy, but for some reason it did.
She didn't see Tony or McGee again for hours and even then it was only a glimpse. They came back in with Commander Mullins, led him to interrogation – Maggie Hopkins following closely behind, she'd even gone as far as to drop her backpack and ruck sac on Tony's chair, before catching up with them down the hallway – and that was the last she saw of them. Evidently, it wasn't just a clean-cut arrest as McGee had said.
It was around half past seven when she decided that she needed more information about this girl. Ziva picked up her now melted ice pack and headed down to Abby's lab.
The lab lighting was dimmed when she entered and she found Abby in the back room, sitting at her desk, putting the finishing touches on her latest case report.
"Ziva," she said, "How's your shoulder?"
"Better, thank you, Abby," She reached into the freezer and exchanged her watery pack for a freshly frozen one. She pressed it against her aching shoulder and neck and then took a seat on the side of Abby's desk.
"So, Abby," she began, "Who is Special Agent Maggie Hopkins exactly?"
Abby spun around in her chair and Ziva watched as her face lit up, "Mags…well she trained with Agent Gonzalez's team here five or six years ago for six months. I don't think you guys had too much interaction with her, though. I did. We'd go out for girls nights and stuff. She didn't have too many friends in the city. She's been at Lemonnier since then."
"Lemonnier?" Ziva asked, "In Djibouti?"
"Yeah, she was Chad Dunham's probie."
"Oh." It was the only thing that she could muster as a response to Abby. Suddenly it all made sense to her and in a hazy and painful memory, she could place her.
And then it made sense to Abby too, because she went silent and the two of them were just left staring at each other, neither really sure as to what to say.
So Ziva got up, tucked a hair behind her ear, "Thank you, Abby. I'll see you tomorrow."
She strode out of the lab and back up the stairs.
Maggie excused herself from the fun of a domestic interrogation, just as it was getting interesting or really, less interesting because Tony and McGee's tag-team approach with Maggie as their secret weapon was just about to crack the guy.
Maggie didn't think she could last another five minutes on her feet, though so she set her sights on the coffee machine in the break room that she'd loved since her short stint here what felt like a lifetime ago.
She'd spent the past forty-eight hours travelling home from Camp Lemonnier. Maggie had three weeks off and she was coming home for the first time in almost a year. It was her little sisters graduation up in Boston next weekend and she'd never forgive herself if she missed that. So she'd gone from Djibouti to Germany and Germany to Washington and now she was going to spend the night with Abby and then continue to Boston tomorrow.
She'd never planned on spending so much time in Africa, but that first mission with Dunham, the one she'd met McGee and DiNozzo on, had changed her trajectory irrevocably. She'd been so naïve and looking for purpose and then on her twelfth day in Africa, she'd helped save someone's life and injected it back into someone else. She'd never been able to leave Dunham's team after that. She could never cut that tie.
She was surprised to stumble upon Ziva in the break room. Her stomach flipped a bit. It'd been so long since she'd seen her and under such different circumstances. McGee had mentioned that she and Tony were finally together. To be honest, she was shocked and actually quite disturbed that it had taken them so long, but she supposed that things were complicated and despite the fact that she had observed their real life fairy tale adventure in action, Maggie knew life was nothing like the movies.
"Hey, Ziva," she said. She took a Styrofoam cup and slid it under the coffee maker, pressing the on button, before turning to face the other occupant of the room, "I'm not sure if you remember me, but…" it was an awkward attempt at addressing the elephant in the room, but Maggie was making the attempt nonetheless.
Ziva nodded, hands clasped tightly around the mug in front of her, "I did not," she admitted, "And then Abby mentioned that you were Chad Dunham's probie and now… I do, in fact."
The coffee maker dinged and Maggie picked up her coffee and looked from the empty chair at the table to Ziva and then back at the chair. Ziva smiled and Maggie took a seat.
"It was a while ago," Maggie offered "And you had a lot of things going on…"
Ziva laughed. "Yes I did, indeed, but I do remember … what I think is some of what went on there."
"You don't have to go through it again – we were both there. It was a bad situation."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"What were your interactions with Tony and McGee like?"
Maggie's hand flew up to her mouth. She shook her head, horrified. "Ohmygosh, Ziva, I have absolutely no feelings for Tony. McGee told me about you two – I think it's great! I would never –"
Ziva reached across the cable and put a hand on Maggie's shoulder. "I know that, Maggie. That wasn't what I meant. I just… you three seem to have such a bond and I was just…"
Maggie nodded. "Ah. Right." She took a deep breath, maybe she should go there. She'd never really told anyone about that night and the way it had changed her and if anyone deserved to know or could possibly understand – it was this woman in front of her.
"So…basically," she began, "Dunham put me in charge of making sure they did what they weren't supposed to only when they were supposed…" She smiled at the absurdity, but truth of the statement. "I was their…keeper for the twenty-four hours before they went into Saleem Ulman's camp and I don't know… people say some things when they think their chances of seeing you again, let alone making it to the next day are slim to none."
Her eyes were glistening now, but Maggie continued, "I had never been around people who were so desperate, who had lost so much. McGee hung on Tony's every word. He was trying so hard to convince him that going down for you was something you wouldn't have wanted, but every time he tried to make a convincing argument for Tony to live he would just fall apart because I think that being there – in a desert tent with just me, he finally understood all he'd lost –"
"Maggie, you don't have to –"
The girl sniffled and wiped her eyes, "No," she said, "I do. For me and you – what went on those two and a half days was life changing for everyone involved and I know I'm just an outsider, but in the off chance that you don't know how much of a disaster Tony was, I need to tell you because the only time he could form more than one coherent sentence in a row was when he was talking about you. It was only when he was telling me every single incredible thing about you that he could hold a conversation and at some point McGee passed out, but Tony never did and I didn't think I could leave him alone before he handed himself over to a bunch of terrorists on a silver platter so I just listened. I listened as he lamented about how he'd never told you that you were his favorite person on the face of the earth – the only woman he had ever really loved and how without you, he had absolutely nothing."
Maggie gulped and wiped her eyes. She took a long swig of her now luke warm coffee and then inhaled before embarking again, "And then the next day when we picked you guys up…I mean, you were like basically unconscious - slung between McGee and Tony… yet, they finally had life back in their eyes. Tony had something to fight for and therefore so did McGee and then when we got to Camp, when were finally safe and they wanted to check you out and they asked McGee and Tony and Gibbs to give you some privacy and it was as if Tony thought that someone was going to shoot you if he wasn't there." She shrugged, "So I stayed and you came to eventually…sorta…but mostly I just sat there and held your hand because that was what Tony would have wanted to do and then they let them come in and Dunham sent me back to camp because I could barely walk straight. And that was the last time I saw them and you until today."
"Until today?" Ziva confirmed, her voice barely even.
"Yeah, I mean McGee and I emailed for a bit. I wanted to know how you were doing and if Tony was functioning again. I mean…I hope you don't mind."
"No, not at all." Ziva smiled, "It is nice to know that they weren't alone…that I wasn't alone and with someone like you, nonetheless."
"You guys mean a lot to me." She tucked her hair behind her ear and took another sip of coffee. "I know that you barely know me and even with them – it was only a couple of days, but I think of you guys all the time. That was big."
"Yes," Ziva agreed, "It definitely was big."
Tony came into the living room and sat down on the couch next to Ziva. He handed her the glass of wine that he held in one hand and placed the ice pack that he held in the other on Ziva's shoulder.
She took a sip of the wine and turned towards Tony. "I talked for a while with Special Agent Hopkins."
"You did?" he asked, his eyes lit for a moment and then they clouded and darkened. "What'd you guys talk about?"
"Um…" Ziva paused, "Most everything."
"Everything," he echoed, allowing the gravity of the statement to seep into him. He was a bit taken a back by it. "I didn't realize that I should have explained more of our relations with Maggie before. I just never thought we'd see her again. I mostly forgot about her. McGee would update me about her from time to time –"
She leaned into him. "It's fine. We had a nice…chat. She is a good friend and you…you are –"
"I love you, too, Ziva." He said. He kissed the top of her head. "And whatever I said to Maggie that night; I'd say it again tonight and tomorrow and every night."
A/N2: I'd really like to know what you thought. Thanks as always for checking it out.