Title: Destination Dead
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 24 June 2009
Fandom: NCIS, with a brief mention/appearance by Stargate SG-1
Characters: Ziva David, Abby Sciuto, Tony DiNozzo, Gibbs, Timothy McGee, Cameron Mitchell, Sam Carter
Word Count: 5,637
Summary: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Spoilers: None specifically. Probably set some time around Stargate: Continuum if you want to translate that into NCIS seasons be my guest. Not post Aliyah.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD09
Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Note: Some many props need to go out for this fic. To cirocco_desade for the idea. Go read her fic Officer Down and you’ll know how this little gem popped into my head. To Ariestess for beta’ing this for me. And to Racethewind10 for the kindly supplying the title.
"It's not right, Gibbs!" Abby exclaimed as he entered her lab.
Gibbs raised an eyebrow that said volumes.
"What's not right, Abs?" Tony asked, just a step behind Gibbs. Tim and Ziva brought up the rear, but remained silent.
"These results!" Abby thrust the sheet of paper at Tony expectantly.
He took them from her and glanced at them, not surprised when they didn't make sense to him in the least. He waggled the sheet of paper at her and shrugged. "Looks like Greek to me, Abs."
"Exactly!" Abby crowed, pointing at Tony triumphantly. "It makes zero sense."
"That's what you called me down here for?" Gibbs asked. "You said you had something for me."
"No," Abby corrected him quickly. "I said I needed you down here. I've run these tests five times, Gibbs. Do you know what Einstein's definition of insanity was, Gibbs? Repeating the same actions over and over and expecting different results. This? Is insanity."
Gibbs put his hands on her shoulders gently and turned her to face him. He smiled when he caught her eyes. "Okay, Abs?" When she nodded, his smile broadened. "What do you need then?"
"More samples from the crime scene?"
"Ziva?" Gibbs called over his shoulder.
She appeared silently next to them. "Yes, Gibbs?"
"Take Abby back to the crime scene and help her get more samples?"
"Ooh," Abby cooed. "Field trip?"
When Gibbs nodded, she flung her arms around him for a brief moment, leaving him grinning and bemused as she stepped away. Ziva was grinning smugly, as she pivoted on her heels and walked over to Tony, holding her hand out with a word.
Grudgingly he dug in his suit pocket and fished out the keys before dropping them mutely in her hand.
"Not fair," he hissed, as she took them from him.
She smirked, and then stuck her tongue out at him. He responded, making a disgusted face at her. Ziva's rich chuckle surprised him, until he looked past her and realized that Gibbs was staring directly at him. From his angle, he had seen only Tony's response, not Ziva's initial action. Tony winced.
"Headslap, Boss?" Tony asked rhetorically.
Gibbs was shaking his head as walked past.
"Ya think, DiNozzo?"
The familiar thud followed Abby and Ziva out of the lab. Abby took two quick steps to catch up with the slightly faster Mossad officer, just before she got to the elevator, and hooked her arm through Ziva's comfortably.
Ziva looked up at her quickly, startled by the sudden invasion of her personal space. Abby smiled down at her, her impossibly high boots emphasizing her height. Ziva shook her head slightly and returned Abby's smile. She could feel every inch of warm skin pressed against her. It sent goose bumps prickling up and down her arms, and she shivered. Thinking she was cold, Abby snuggled closer to her. Ziva froze, and suddenly found herself struggling to breathe with Abby so close beside her.
"You were so mean."
"What?" Ziva asked, wondering if she had missed part of the conversation. It was embarrassing. A highly trained Mossad officer, being so completed distracted just by the presence of someone beside her in an elevator.
"To Tony." Abby clarified, grinning.
"Ah." Ziva shrugged her free shoulder. "He started it," she said simply.
Abby laughed. "You sound like siblings."
It was the wrong thing to say. Abby realized it as she felt tension run through Ziva's body. Even the muscles under her hand seemed to tighten.
"I would not know," she said matter-of-factly.
"I'm sorry," Abby said softly.
Impulsively she turned so that she could hug Ziva, wanting to erase the sadness that she had inadvertently created. She was even more surprised when she felt Ziva's arms slip around her and hold her back for a moment. The small gesture wasn't one that Ziva made often and it warmed her unexpectedly.
*** *** ***
The crime scene was exactly the way that Ziva remembered it. It was, she had found, very useful to have a photographic memory when working as a trained investigator. It made keeping track of the myriad of details every case usually involved much easier.
"Is this where Tony got the samples?" Abby asked, as she examined the wall splattered with blood and fragments of flesh.
"Yes," Ziva said slowly, thinking back to where Tony had been collecting samples. "He was being very thorough," she mused.
Abby mock-gasped and looked back at Ziva. "You said something nice about Tony."
"I have said many nice things about Tony," Ziva corrected her. She wrinkled her nose. "But very rarely in his hearing."
Abby laughed. "That just means you know Tony." Her voice trailed off as she saw something on the wall, and leaned closer to take a better look.
She reached out with tweezers to pick up a sample of the matter on the walls and examined it. "This can't be right," Abby murmured under her breath. She frowned and brought the sample closer, as if getting a better look at it would force it to make sense. "It's impossible."
"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
Abby blinked and glanced over at her. "What?"
"Sherlock Holmes, yes?" Ziva said. "It is a famous quote."
"I know," Abby said. "I just didn't figure you for a Sir Author Conan Doyle fan."
Ziva smirked. "There are many things that you do not know about me."
Ziva's gaze was piercing and Abby felt strangely vulnerable underneath it, as if Ziva had never looked at her so deeply before or she had never seen Ziva so clearly.
"This is too improbable though," Abby said quickly. "It really is impossible."
"What-" Ziva stopped in mid-sentence as something clattered loudly out in the hall. Automatically her hand went to the pistol at her side. She motioned Abby back out of sight with her other hand and started towards the door.
The sound grew louder. A low drone of noise punctuated by heavy, shuffling footfalls. It sounded as if an unhappy crowd were just outside the room, just about to try to get in. Ziva had had her fair share of experience with unhappy crowds and she did not particularly want to deal with this one alone. It seemed as if it was time to call for backup.
"Um, Zee!" Abby spoke in a high-pitched whisper. "Remember how I said it was impossible?"
Ziva's phone buzzed. With her free hand she flipped it open. Tony had texted her.
"But the thing is, the results say it isn't impossible. I mean, I ran the tests, and then re-ran them several more times because they just couldn't be right. But if they were - and I think they were - then Ziva I think this guy was killed by-"
"Zombies? Is this DiNozzo's idea of a joke?"
"No!" Abby blurted out loudly. "Ziva, I think it really is zombies that killed Petty Officer Richards. It's the only explanation that makes sense, given the evidence that you brought me. All of the tissue from the walls, which is where the blowback from the defense wounds that Richards' attacker spattered, was severely decayed. I mean, it would take weeks to get in that condition if he was already dead. There's no way someone could be walking around like that and still be alive."
Ziva glanced over her shoulder at Abby in disbelief. "You are pulling my brain."
"Chain," Abby corrected automatically, "And no. I'm not pulling anything. That would be what the zombies want to do."
"Get behind the desk," Ziva said curtly, deciding in that moment to face the impending horde as she faced every other enemy that had tried to take her down - bravely and without backing down. She reached into her bag and brought out a large pistol. "Take this," she said, pressing the gun into Abby's hand. "It is very simple. If one comes near you, point and shoot. Do not stop shooting until they stop moving."
"But - They're zombies! You can't kill zombies," Abby said, slightly hysterically.
"And there cannot be zombies either," Ziva pointed out bluntly. "Something must stop them. Petty Officer Richardson stopped them."
"And he died!" Abby protested.
Ziva stepped closer, cupping her cheek and forcing Abby to look at her. "I am better than Petty Officer Richardson. Trust me."
The panic in Abby's eyes faded slightly, and she nodded sharply.
"Good," Ziva said, firmly. "Now, go, please."
"But what about you?" Abby protested.
"I will be fine," Ziva said confidently. "If I do not have to worry about you. Go."
There was a loud thud against the door. Abby jumped.
"Please," Ziva asked softly, "Abigail."
Abby turned and went.
There was another thud against the door. Louder and somehow thicker this time. Despite the reinforcements that she had hastily added, it would only take one more hit, Ziva thought. It was not that strong of a door.
She could have wished for much more solid defenses. And also several concussion grenades. Zombies they may be - and Ziva would still hold out belief on that for when she saw it with her own eyes - but she had a feeling that some high powered explosives would still prove effective.
There was no more time to waste wishing for things that could not be. The door shattered inward. The stench hit them at the same moment. Only years of discipline and strict self-control kept Ziva from gagging at the truly noxious smell.
Loud groans filled the air as the first zombie - it couldn't be anything else; Ziva gave up on holding out for any saner possibility immediately - came through the door. She fired twice, and then again, focusing all of her fire on its neck. Her logic paid off a moment later, as the sinew connecting it blown away, its head toppled off. Unfortunately it didn't seem to slow it down. It lurched toward Ziva, slightly off course now, but still moving forward with its arms held stiffly out in front of it.
Ziva cursed, but didn't stop firing. Not carelessly, but with her usual precision, making each shot count. They didn't seem to feel pain, but with the joints in its knees blown away, forward motion would prove much more difficult, she knew. The problem, Ziva knew, was that she didn't have enough ammunition to keep this up indefinitely.
She could only hope that she could hold them off long enough for the team to arrive. If she could keep their attention on her and away from Abby, then perhaps at the least she would make it out of this situation alive. Ziva was fiercely determined to protect her.
With methodical determination, she was working her way through the oncoming hoard. Each zombie, however, managed to get a little bit closer to her than the one before it. Without backup, Ziva knew they would eventually reach her. The part of her mind that wasn't completely occupied by holding this hoard at bay was already thinking about possible ways to get Abby away from them safely. Surely this had to be an isolated incident. This was already the most ridiculous fight that she had ever been, if no less deadly.
She squeezed the trigger, one more time. This shot would completely disable the zombie in front of her. Her pistol clicked emptily instead of firing. With a smooth motion that was a testament to years upon years of practice Ziva popped the empty clip free, and was already pulling out her spare clip and popping it into the pistol.
She cursed, as she rapidly began firing again. They were closer now. Almost close enough to touch her. She needed space. More importantly, she needed to get Abby out, and there was only one way - through the door. That meant she needed to get the doorway cleared out before she used up her last clip of ammunition.
She was just about to call Abby back over to her, when the familiar sound of gunfire came from the hallway outside. Her backup was here. Ziva's lips bared her teeth in what would have been a smile if it hadn't been so fierce. She only allowed herself an instant to savor the feeling before she tamped it back down again and focused on her mission. Feelings were a distraction. They could get you killed. She had been to the funerals of enough comrades to know that.
"Ziva!" Abby's terrified, high pitched screech cut through the air.
Ziva turned - there was no time for thought or planning or even to process what she was seeing - and squeezed the trigger in quick succession. The zombie crumpled, its decaying arms still encircling Abby, and its dead weight dragging her down with it.
She took one step toward her and felt something grab and throw her with incredible force into the opposite wall. Her head slammed into the rough dry wall. Pain exploded behind her eyes and she crumpled through the floor. She was making an effort to stand as soon as she hit the ground, even as she was struggling to focus on what was in front of her. Her vision blurred and she blinked only to see outstretched hands and drool dripping from a slobbering mouth lunging toward her.
Instinctively, she shoved herself away from the wall, rolling away from the lunging zombie's outstretched arms. Pain lanced through her ankle as it collapsed underneath her. She fell for a second time, and landed in a heap. Gunfire exploded over her. The heavy weight of a disabled zombie slammed into the ground beside her.
Ziva looked up and into the eyes of a tall, dark haired soldier. He was dressed in black BDU's and cradled a rifle comfortably in his hands.
He grinned broadly and held out a hand.
"Colonel Cameron Mitchell, at your service."
Ziva grasped his wrist, her left hand scooping up the knife that was sheathed in her boot, as she let him pull her to her feet. She swayed slightly, and batted his hand away, as she shifted her weight off her bad ankle. Warily, she examined him from head to toe. He did not look like a zombie but she didn't know him and he wasn't part of her team. It made her cautious.
"Abby." Ziva took a hobbling step forward and batted his hand away for a second time as he reached to steady her. "Abby," Ziva called more loudly, hobbling faster when there was no response.
The tip of Abby's boot sticking out from underneath the crumpled zombie drew Ziva's eye. Immediately she began tugging at the now inanimate body, pulling it off Abby.
"I'm here," Abby said quietly. "Oh, God, Ziva. Get him off me. Get him off."
"It is okay, Abby." Ziva said, relief flooding through her, despite the goth woman's obvious fear and disgust. Abby was alive, and appeared to be uninjured. It was much, much better than she had feared.
"You are okay," Ziva repeated, as she finally got Abby free. "He's gone now, Abby."
The moment Abby realized she was free, she reached for Ziva, looking disconcertingly like the zombie that had charged Ziva only moments before just for an instant. Then she was wrapped tightly around Ziva's body, holding her with a strength that Ziva hadn't believed Abby possessed. She held the other woman back, trying not to think about how close she had come to losing her.
"The paramedics are here," a feminine voice from behind them supplied.
Not letting go of Abby, Ziva looked up from around her and saw a blonde woman in a uniform identical to the other man's standing a loose guard in front of them, cradling her weapon loosely. She held it casually, but comfortably, standing down, but ready for the fight to resume at a moment's notice. That kind of easy readiness made Ziva nervous. It meant they weren't entirely safe her, and her entire body tensed with the knowledge.
She stepped back from Abby slightly, still favoring her ankle, but she couldn't bring herself to let go completely. Her hand found one of Abby's, and Abby's fingers slid through hers immediately in return, holding on tightly.
"Over here," the blonde woman, called gesturing the paramedics over. "She needs medical attention," she added, gesturing at Ziva.
"I do not," Ziva protested.
Abby squeezed her hand tightly, her other hand curling around her forearm. "You do too!" Her hand danced around the side of Ziva's face, almost brushing her skin but not quite touching it. "You're bleeding."
The paramedics were swarming her now; Ziva was about to protest again.
"Please?" Abby asked softly. "Just let them look at you? I know you've been through worse, but you really scared me. I just want to make sure that you're okay."
Ziva blinked, startled by the soft question instead of the strident urgings that she had been expecting. She found herself nodding, and allowing the paramedics to begin examining her. She even helpfully hopped up on the stretcher for them.
When Abby started to let go of her hand, Ziva caught her wrist. "You are coming with me." Her tone didn't invite any contradictions, but Abby didn't seem to mind. In fact, she even smiled - not as brightly as usual, still a little bit shaky - but she was smiling nonetheless when she got into the ambulance with Ziva.
"You should be checked out by a doctor, as well." Her grip tightened around Abby's wrist. "And I am not letting you out of my sight until I have seen Gibbs."
Abby froze, and lowered her voice, pressing up against the side of Ziva's stretcher. "You don't trust them?"
"I do not know them," Ziva corrected her. "And I do not trust them with your safety, not until I know them much better."
Abby melted at Ziva's words, touched by the rare expression of affection and knowing how much it actually meant coming from Ziva. Around her, the paramedics hustled them both into the ambulance. When they were settled, Abby looked down, intending to thank Ziva, to say something, to acknowledge the moment that had passed between them, only to find Ziva's eyes closed.
For one moment, Abby's breath hitched fearfully, worried that Ziva had fallen unconscious or that something worse had happened.
Ziva's fingers tightened briefly, and her eyes flew back open, struggling to focus in on Abby.
"What is wrong?"
All Abby could do was shake her head, the words stuck in her throat at Ziva's awareness, even in her injured state. She swallowed against the lump in her throat.
"Nothing. Just rest. We'll be there soon."
*** *** ***
Ziva drifted slowly in and out of consciousness. Even in her exhausted and injured state, her lifetime of training and instincts honed by years of life and death situations kept her aware of her surroundings. The squeaking wheels of a nurse pushing a cart by out in the hallway would jerk her back to consciousness for the briefest of moments, before she slipped away again. A moment later it would be the steady, irritating beep of a nurse call button from the next room over.
There was always something to keep her awake and alert. Ziva could never truly relax in a place like this. It was just one reason that she hated hospitals so badly. The other was that she felt so helpless. Not that she was every truly without a weapon. But with her mind slowed by drugs and her body weakened by injuries, she was far from her top form. And they would never let her have a weapon. Not even one of the knives that she constantly kept strapped on her body.
Ziva would have preferred being naked. It would have been more comfortable.
Abby's presence in the chair beside her bed was a mixed blessing. There was no doubt that Abby's slow even breathing was calming. It was that steady, gentle sound that lulled Ziva back to sleep each time, but it was also Abby that was putting her further on edge.
Behind each squeak and slow tread, Ziva was listening for a distinctive shuffle and low groans. There hadn't been enough time to confer with the soldiers who had rescued them, not as she was being pushed into the ambulance with Abby, and she still hadn't heard from Gibbs or the rest of the team. She had no way of knowing what was going on or how widespread this, this - what was this? - thing, these people who had attacked first the Petty Officer and then she and Abby. There could be another attack, even here in the hospital. There was no way to be certain, and this time she didn't have a weapon to defend Abigail or herself.
Sweat broke out on Ziva's forehead. She struggled to sit up and groaned, shutting her eyes and pressing one hand against her ribs for more support. Yes, they were definitely broken.
She opened her eyes and found Abby staring at her. For the first time, she registered the very uncomfortable position that the tall woman was folded into, to fit into the chair.
"Ziva? What are you doing? Do you need something?"
"I am getting up, and then we are getting out of here."
"Not so fast, Officer David." The soldier from before was standing in the doorway. He filled the space, and blocked out the light from the hallway.
Ziva's hand found Abby's arm, her fingers clenching tightly around it. Abby held steady beneath her grip as Ziva swung her legs over the side of her bed, and stood. Abby's arm strained beneath her fingers as she used it to keep her balance and keep herself upright.
"I'm afraid you two aren't going anywhere just yet," Colonel Mitchell said a little bit too cheerfully as he strode into the room.
"Why not?" Despite the fact that she had needed Abby's help to stand just a moment before, the threat in her simple question was obvious.
She didn't bother to state the obvious - that they hadn't done anything wrong. If there was one thing that Ziva knew, it was military agencies. When they had determined something was necessary, right, wrong and fair often didn't matter.
"Because I said so."
Ziva straightened. "That is not a good enough answer."
"It's going to have to be," Colonel Mitchell said, taking a quick step forward, losing some of his laconic good cheer.
Ziva stepped forward, putting herself between him and Abby as she did.
"It's okay, Ziva."
She heard Gibbs before she saw him. Ziva did a double take when she did. He was wearing full bio-hazard protective gear.
"Gibbs?" She asked uncertainly.
"We're working with Colonel Mitchell on this." She didn't need to see it, to hear the soft smirk in his voice. "Giving him our full cooperation. A joint NCIS/SG-1 mission. Right, Colonel?"
Mitchell coughed uncomfortably, but nodded. "Right."
Behind Ziva, Abby raised her hand. Mitchell blinked in surprise.
"Uh, yes, Ms. Sciuto?"
"Abby, please." She said with a nervous smile. "I have a question. What is going on? There's, there's Zombies running around, and we're being held here in the hospital." She pointed at Gibbs. "He's wearing a biohazard suit! Why aren't we?"
"Because we've already been contaminated, Ms. Sciuto."
"Contaminated by what?" Ziva asked, stepping back to catch a hold of Abby's hand.
Gibbs was with them, and he didn't seem concerned about Colonel Mitchell. In fact, he seemed to trust him at least as much as Gibbs trusted anyone. She had a feeling that whatever Mitchell was about to see, Abby wasn't going to like it. Something had changed between them since Ziva had returned from Israel. She felt closer to Abby than before, freer, and more conscious of the other woman's moods.
She knew, without having it spelled out for her, that Abby was frightened. Today was far from what Abby usually dealt with and she had handled it very well. But sometimes one more thing was just one too many, and Ziva didn't want her to be frightened. So she reached out and held her hand, not caring what Mitchell or even Gibbs thought about the gesture.
"An alien virus. It slowly eats away at the neuro system of the body that it inhabits. The person's behavior gradually grows more and more erratic, but we've seen some general patterns like aggression and incoherence stand out. Eventually - when the virus is done eating through the brain - the body just falls apart and dies, but until then..." He shook his head. "Well, until that happens they just continue to spread the virus and wreak havoc on the population."
"Oh," Abby said blankly. "Is that it?"
Ziva squeezed her hand gently. "So we have been exposed, yes?" The part about this being an alien virus had not escaped her notice. In fact, she was very curious about it, but at the moment it was low on her list of priorities. First she wanted to know about the immediate danger.
"Yes." Mitchell agreed grimly. "But my people think that the two of you have some kind of natural immunity. You've both been exposed to the virus for several days, throughout the investigation, and so far you show no signs of contamination. But, just in case, we want to keep you quarantined here for the next few days. SG-1 has ties to this hospital. In fact, we have this entire floor locked down. We can't risk the spread of this any further."
"What about Tony, and Tim?" Abby asked, turning to Gibbs, her eyes widening in shock. "Are they okay?"
Gibbs' mouth pressed into a thin line. He shook his head slightly, and Abby sank back into her chair.
"They're contaminated, but they've been injected with a vaccine that we think should fight this off. They might just be a little sick for a while."
Abby's skin looked even paler than usual, Ziva thought, as she studied her out of the corner of her eye.
"Tony cannot afford to lose many more brain cells," Ziva stated wryly.
The small smile that tugged at the corner of Abby's lips was worth it when the goth woman let go of her hand, and balled it into a fist, tagging Ziva lightly on her hip.
*** *** ***
"Sit down!" Ziva snapped the words out harshly. She winced and closed her eyes. She had wished she could take them back almost as soon as they were out of her mouth. However, if she had to watch Abby pace back and forth against the small confines of their room one more time she would not be responsible for her actions.
Abby stopped pacing, and pinned Ziva with a glare instead.
"Tell me you wouldn't be doing the same thing, if you weren't hurt," Abby demanded.
Ziva rolled her eyes. "But I am, and it is annoying."
"Why aren't you more worried about this? I mean, there are real aliens out there, and they do not come in peace! From the way Colonel Mitchell was acting, there are probably lots of aliens out there, and no one knows about them. And they have viruses that turn people into zombies! What else do they have, Ziva? Because we have enough problems here without aliens and zombies!"
Ziva recognized the words spilling out of Abby's mouth. It was far from the first time that she had been on the end of one of Abby's rants, and it was always best to head them off quickly before she got truly distressed. Heartless she may have often seemed to Abby, but she could never stand to see the other woman so upset.
She caught Abby's wrist the next time she paced past the edge of Ziva's bed. With a quick, but gentle tug, Ziva pulled her off-balance, and Abby half-fell onto Ziva's bed. Immediately, Ziva clamped a hand over her mouth. She met Abby's eyes steadily, holding her gaze until she was sure that she would stay silent.
"It will be okay," Ziva said slowly. "You know my father is the Director of Mossad, yes?" She waited for Abby's nod of acknowledgement before she continued. "I have heard rumors for years about groups like this SG-1, though I have never encountered them before myself. It was all whispers and insinuations, comments here and there. What I have heard is that they are very good at what they do. They are the best of the best." She paused, and looked away before refocusing on Abby. "And if they are not, I will not let anything happen to you. I promise you this. Gibbs will not allow anything to happen either."
Abby sniffled loudly, tears beginning to trickle down her face. "Timmy and Tony...."
Ziva squeezed her hand. "They will be fine. Tony has survived the plague and many, many more things. He is very good at surviving and he will not let anything happen to Timothy. He knows he would have to answer to you if he did."
Her serious words managed to startle a laugh from Abby. Abby's eyes closed briefly, and she shook her head, as if she could erase her distressing thoughts just that easily. When Abby opened her eyes again, she was staring down at their joined hands. Idly Abby starting running her thumb back and forth in slow circles across the back of Ziva's hand.
"You're being so sweet to me," Abby said softly. "You usually get mad at me when I freak out."
Ziva pursed her lips. It was true. She usually did not handle Abby's freak-outs very well. Once she was upset - usually over what seemed like nothing - there was little that she could do to calm her back down. Ziva did not like dealing with situations that she didn't know how to control, and Abby was so far outside of her area of expertise that she might as well have been an alien.
"You frighten me." The admission was so quiet that even as close as Abby was, she had to strain to hear it.
"Me?" Abby blurted in disbelief. "But you're Ziva David, super spy! Kick-ass Mossad agent! How could I possibly scare you?"
"Because you make me feel things that I have never felt before," Ziva admitted. Her eyes never left Abby's as she spoke. She had no idea how Abby would react or even if she would understand what Ziva was trying to say, but she wanted to see every detail of Abby's response. Her heart was pounding in her chest and unconsciously she was holding her breath.
"Zee, I don't know what to say," Abby said slowly.
Ziva squeezed her hand slowly and sank back into the pillows behind her, allowing her head to fall back against the bed and her eyes to close.
"You do not have to say anything."
She opened her hand, letting Abby's fingers drop away, and willed the moment to stretch and pass on, leaving this behind. She had tried, and Abby had responded. Perhaps not in the way that she had been hoping for, but she knew now, at least, how Abby felt. It had been a flight of fancy, unlike Ziva had allowed herself to have since she was a little girl, to believe that Abby might return any of the feelings that Ziva had for her.
"No. Wait!" Abby blurted out. "Just...." She fidgeted. "Just give me a minute."
She paced up and down the length of Ziva's bed, pivoting sharply on her heel and turning back, until she stopped abruptly in front of Ziva.
"You like me. As more than just a friend."
Ziva swallowed and nodded, focusing on a point just to the left of Abby's chin. She couldn't meet her eyes, but neither could she look away.
"You never said anything," Abby said softly, biting one side of her lip in a cute gesture that tugged at Ziva's heart.
"I did not think you would be interested." She looked up and met Abby's eyes. "You are always flirting with Timothy."
"Flirting," Abby countered. "That's all. I'm fond of Timmy; I love him. But not that way anymore. We had something special, but it wasn't meant to last."
"What are you saying, Abigail?" Then tension in Ziva's voice was almost palpable.
Abby flashed her a brilliant smile. It lit up her face with emotion and such genuine happiness that Ziva had only rarely seen on other people. Yet Abby smiled that way often.
"I'm asking," Abby declared, perching on the edge of Ziva's bed and scooping up one of her hands in both of her own and cradling it to her chest. "If you would like to go out with me some time, Ziva David." She scrunched up her nose. "Assuming that we live through the Zombie alien invasion."
Ziva laughed, both charmed and disarmed. Abby so often left her reeling in the best possible way.
"We will." Ziva said confidently. "I promise I will not let them hurt you, Abby."
Abby smiled again. "There's no one that I would rather protect me from zombies."
"Not even Gibbs?" Ziva asked slowly, uncertain if she truly wanted to know the answer to that question. She wasn't jealous of Abby's relationship with Gibbs. It defied boundaries for the most part, but then so did her own relationship with Gibbs.
"Not even Gibbs." Abby twisted around until she was facing the same was as Ziva and then sank back onto the bed beside her. She turned to look at Ziva with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, so close that their noses were almost touching. "So where are you taking me?"