Title: Aftershock
Author: Cherokee62
Feedback address: cherokee62@livejournal.com
Date in Calendar: 25 June 2010
Fandom: CSI/NCIS
Pairing: Catherine Willows/Ziva David
Rating: NC-17/M Sexual Situations involving women, hurt, comfort, violence, angst
Word Count: 23,309
Summary: AU: Ziva reaches out to an old friend to help her in her darkest hour..
Spoilers: Episode 5.16 Recoil - NCIS: Episode 3.01 Kill Ari
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD10

Disclaimer: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigators," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Alliance Atlantis, and CBS Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with "CSI: Crime Scene Investigators," CBS, or any representatives of the actors.

"NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Services," the characters, and situations depicted are the property of Belisarius Productions, Paramount Network Television Productions, Paramount Television, and CBS Television. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. This site is in no way affiliated with " NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Services," CBS, or any representatives of the actors.

Author's Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, just having some fun with them. They are owned by CBS Corp. No profit is being made with this story.

Author's Notes 1: Takes place after episode 5.16 Recoil.

Author's Notes 2: During this episode, Ziva is uncharacteristically upset after killing a murderer. She looks horrible and severely troubled. At the end of the episode, we see a smiling Ziva, once again beautiful. Why was she is affected so strongly and what happened to ease her mind? I decided to try to answer those questions myself...my way.

Author's Notes 3: I use some actual show quotes but change who says them to fit my tale when necessary.

Edited by Thelightwentoff


Driving along, she hears her cell phone ring. Looking at the man beside her, she reaches down and answers. It is McGee, calling to give her the distress code, Bernard. Something is wrong. She must find a way to abort the mission. She pretends the call is a wrong number, but he picks up her phone and asks "Who's Gibbs?"

"Wrong number."

"It's number two on your speed dial."

"Ex-boyfriend, okay? My phone please."

He quietly hands her the phone and points a revolver at her. "Drive."

She knows she's in trouble, big trouble. Where are Gibbs and McGee? They were supposed to be following.

He leads her into an empty warehouse, and makes her turn her back to him. She can feel the gun, even though she cannot see it. She can feel his desire to kill her. The gun is inches from the back of her head. With her back turned she can't anticipate his movements.

Her heart is beating wildly, so loudly in her chest that she can just barely hear him cock the gun. When will he shoot? Now? Her senses are so hyper that she swears she can feel a change in the air as he tightens his finger on the trigger.

She whirls at the last possible second. Something whizzes by her head, a burning sensation at her brow. Seconds later, the loud ear splitting boom!

Acting on pure instinct, she lunges at him, a wild animal fighting for basic survival. She kicks, she bites, she punches. He pounds, he slaps. She is thrown across the room.

The gun. It is right there. She crawls, scrambles for it. Gets it in her hands, just seconds before it's too late. Rolling on her back, she lifts the gun. He is running at her, eyes wide, mouth open, screaming in his insanity.

She pulls the trigger five times. He lands on her, knife poised to stab. His eyes bulging, staring into hers. Suddenly he is still. The eyes still staring, but now blank. Dead.

She is trapped under him. He will not stop staring into her eyes. His face shifts, changes - Hoffman's face -Ari's face-Kate's face -her father's face. Accusing her. Damning her.

Ziva David shoots up in bed, a cry just breaking from her lips, her body coated with sweat, trembling uncontrollably.

"Stop looking at me!" she cried out.

Dropping her head into her hands, Ziva sobbed. "No more. Please. No more."

As she sat on the edge of the bed, the nightmare still playing in her mind, she knows she must do something or go mad.


Gibbs found her in the morgue. She is staring at the body of Hoffman the serial killer.

"Why do you haunt me? You were guilty! You tried to kill me! Your death was justified, if not deserved," she whispered to the dead man. "I have killed greater men then you. I have forgotten more deaths. Why do your eyes haunt me? You were nothing. You are nothing. Leave me alone!"

Turning from the body, Ziva rushed out of the morgue, only to run into Gibbs.

"Ziva, what is going on with you?" Gibbs asked.

"Nothing," Ziva said without looking at him.

"Is that what this is about?" Gibbs asked. "You doubting your judgment?"

Ziva sighed, "I should have moved earlier."

"You would have if you could have,” Gibbs replied.

"I left it too late,” Ziva whispered. "I almost died."

"But you didn't. You gotta trust your judgment, Ziva,” Gibbs replied. "Moment you don't, it won't be almost."

Gibbs walked away and Ziva slumped against the wall.

"Why do they not understand?" She asked herself for the hundredth time.


She knows she is beginning to look bad. Dark circles under her eyes, hair limp and lifeless. But she cannot seem to care. Everyone has been kind to her, even Tony, trying to take her mind off of it, trying to distract her. But no one wants to listen. She's not sure if she could even find the words if they did.

Work has become a trial. She cannot concentrate, she cannot think. She is making mistakes. She is endangering everyone. She is lost.

Gibbs, worried and tired of her depression, pulled her into his 'office' one afternoon.

"Ziva, you need to snap out of this!" Gibbs exclaimed. "You're worthless to me, to the team, like this!"

"I am trying, Gibbs," Ziva whispered. "I'm trying, but I cannot."

Sighing, Gibbs quietly said, "You need to take some time off, Ziva. Go away. Take as much time as you need."

"Go away?" Ziva repeated with a puzzled look. "Go where? There is nowhere I can go. No one I can go to."

"I don't care where you go," Gibbs retorted. "Just go as far from NCIS and D.C. as you can get. Forget this place, forget Mossad. Just go and leave it all behind. Now. Today."

"Gibbs..." Ziva began.

"It's not a suggestion, Ziva," Gibbs responded. "It's an order."


As she sat alone in her apartment, Ziva was desperately trying to think of someone, anyone, she can call for help. For a moment, she pictures the face of Jenny Sheppard, director of NCIS.

Sighing, Ziva thought, "There was a time Jenny would have been my first call. But that was years ago. She made it clear then, that I must never refer to our past relationship."

Ziva laughed bitterly. "She is the director. She must know what has happened; what is happening to me. But she has said not a word to me. Offered no advice, no sympathy, no shoulder to cry on. What point is there in calling her now?"

She dropped her head into her hands in defeat, Ziva had never felt this helpless, this broken, in her life. She wondered how she got here, to this point in her life.

Her mind served up a picture of another redheaded woman. One she had known years back, after Jenny. They had parted as friends, were actually never anything more. But as she got on the plane, the redhead had held her close and told her to call if she ever needed her, if she ever needed anything. That time had finally come.

"It doesn't matter for what or when," the redhead told her that day. "I will always be here for you, my dear Ziva. You only need to ask for my help."

Hoping she really meant what she said, Ziva picked up her cell and dialed the number that she hadn't used in years but had never forgotten.

"CSI, Willows speaking."

"Hi, Catherine," Ziva murmured into the phone. "I need your help."

Catherine Willows gave an audible gasp into the phone, "Ziva? Ziva. My God...are you...where are you?"

In a low voice, Ziva answered, "In Washington. In hell. You said I could call if..."

"How soon can you get here?" Was all the redhead said.


Chapter 2

She sat looking out of the window, watching the porters load the luggage into the bottom of the plane. Soon she would be in the air, flying away from D.C., but to what, she didn't know.

It had been years since she last saw Catherine Willows. She was a different person then, younger yes, but more than that. She was less...jaded. Less hard. Would Catherine even recognize her?

As the plane began to move down the runway, Ziva allowed herself the rare chance to recall the past. She remembered why she had gone to Vegas five years ago and how she had met the beautiful Catherine Willows.


When she was younger, she was so confident, so cocky. How Jenny loved her then. She was as close to love as Ziva had ever found. She adored the older redhead, would have died for her, if necessary.

She knew Jenny had loved her. But when push came to shove, she loved her career more. When the chance to go back to the States for a promotion arrived, Jenny knew she could never bring Ziva with her; not as her lover at least. Ziva understood Jenny's career was all she had ever had. She worked hard to get where she was and would not jeopardize it just for the company of a young Israeli Mossad officer, no matter how pleasurable that company may be. So she made a choice. And Ziva lost her. They had remained friends, but Ziva had been hurt deeply.

The wounds left on her heart by Jenny were cavernous. Ziva knew that she should shake off the hurt and move on. Company was never hard for the beautiful brunette to find, but she just kept comparing them to Jenny. Some wanted to control her, some to use her, and some to trap her. But none that wanted to love her - love her as simply and sweetly as Jenny had.

She needed to get it all out of her system. Find a woman or a man, and take what pleasure she needed and move on. No more relationships. No more feelings past the need for release. But in Eastern Europe, her options were limited, especially if she wanted to remain discreet. So when the chance was offered for her to take a few weeks off between assignments, Ziva decided to go to the States. And what better place to lose yourself for a while and be free to do as she pleased then Las Vegas.

"After all," Ziva reasoned to herself. "They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Just what I am looking for."

Her first night at the Tangiers casino, Ziva decided to check out the nightclub in the hotel.

"If I am lucky, I will find some amusement for the night," thought Ziva. "If nothing else, I can get pleasantly drunk and dance."

Sitting at the bar, Ziva looked around at the crowd. A lot of beautiful people, men and women, but no one that really caught her eye. As she started to turn back to the bar, a flash of red hair caught her eye.

She watched as a beautiful woman with fiery red hair seductively moved on the dance floor. She was wearing a short emerald green dress that showed off her long, shapely legs. Ziva was mesmerized by the way the dress hugged the woman's hips, forcing her eyes to follow the sways and dips as she moved. The woman's head was thrown back, arms raised and resting on the back of her neck. Her long hair swung and reflected the light, making it look like molten lava. Ziva knew instantly, as her breath quickened at the sight before her , that this was who she was looking for.

Setting her glass down, she began to get up to move to the woman. She was determined that she would seduce her, no matter what she needed to do. Before she could take a step, the redhead turned to the woman behind her, apparently her dance partner, and said something with a laugh. Throwing the woman a wink and a kiss, she headed for the bar.

Ziva quickly looked around and saw the only available seat was one down from hers. A man was sitting next to her, alone. She leaned into him and asked if he would mind moving over one seat because she had a friend who was about to join her and wished for them to sit together. Ziva quickly sat back on her stool and placed her arm around the now empty one next to her.

The woman walked up to the bar, paused behind the empty seat, and called to the bartender for her 'usual'. Ziva casually looked up, about to ask if the woman wanted to sit. She gasped at just how gorgeous the woman was up close. She was fanning herself with a napkin and running her hand through her long hair. Ziva was totally captivated by a single bead of sweat that was traveling down the woman's chest and disappearing into her cleavage.

The bartender brought the woman's drink, and she glanced down at Ziva and asked, "Are you saving this for someone?"

Still staring at the woman's cleavage, Ziva didn't catch the question. "Hmmm?"

"This seat?" the woman said with a smile. "Is it taken or can I sit here? My feet are killing me."

"No, please. Have a seat," Ziva stammered.

"Thanks." Sitting down, she took a sip of her drink and turned to Ziva, and held out her hand. "Catherine. So, first time in Vegas?"

Ziva gave the woman a stunned look before replying. "It shows?"

Catherine gave her a slow and deliberate going over with her eyes before answering. "Yeah, it does. You look unsure of yourself but not exactly shy. Almost like you are trying to figure out how everything works. And your name?"

Ziva laughed and took the woman's hand. "Ziva David. And by what I can see, you are a regular here. You seem very at home. The bartender knows your drink. You show no fear in choosing your dance partners. Almost as if you want to shock but know you will not."

With a lifted eyebrow, Catherine gave a breathy laugh, "You sound like a cop. And where is that lovely accent from, Ms. David?"

"Not a cop, as you say. " Ziva responded. "And I am from Israel. Just here for a little vacation and to see the sights."

Catherine took another sip of her drink. "And how are you enjoying Sin City so far?"

Ziva shrugged casually. "I have only been here a few hours, so I have seen no sin as yet. But I can say the sights are certainly beautiful. At least from where I am sitting."

Choking on her drink, Catherine laughed loudly, "Gee, subtle often?"

"Not really," Ziva deadpanned. "I am not used to much conversation. I prefer to be direct, saves time, yes?"

"I suppose so, " Catherine chuckled. "How's that working for ya?"

"It remains to be seen." Ziva replied, leaning forward and placing her hand on Catherine's knee. "You are very beautiful, Catherine. I found your dancing to be...quite arousing."

Catherine looked at her in amazement, but Ziva ignored her and continued. "I prefer not to spend the night alone. I am staying here and would like it very much if you would choose to join me in my room."

Catherine just stared at her open-mouthed for a moment, then blushed. "Boy, you are direct. Don't you think you're a little young for me? And what makes you think I would even consider your request?"

Ziva looked directly into Catherine's eyes, "Young? What does age matter? I find you to be beautiful and sexy. What else matters? It is obvious that you are a woman who enjoys her pleasures. Your drink, your dancing. You move like a woman who enjoys sex, enjoys enticing those around you and has no qualms about it. Your body was made to give pleasure and take it as well."

Ziva paused, giving the woman a chance to protest. When she doesn't she continued. "You are here for a reason, no? You too seek comfort in the night, but even in your confidence, you fear rejection. I offer no such rejection, the opposite actually. Why not find comfort in each other? I offer nothing but a night of sexual pleasure and physical release. So, will you join me, Catherine?"

Leaning forward, Ziva placed her lips against Catherine's, kissing her. A soft, tender kiss, that was full of promise as she lightly ran her tongue over Catherine's bottom lip.

A shiver ran up Catherine's back, awakening feelings she had suppressed long ago. Pulling in a ragged breath, she looked a Ziva for a moment, then took her hand. "Let's go."


Ziva opened her eyes when a beam of sunlight hit her face. She groaned and turned her head away from it. Looking around the room, she is momentarily confused by the chaos. Lamps have been knocked off of tables, an empty bottle of wine peeks out from under the dresser and clothing seems to be everywhere.

"What in the world happened in here?" Ziva wondered to herself. "It looks like there was a battle!"

Still in a daze, she continued to look around and spied a pair of lace panties hanging from the wall sconce. At first she frowns at the sight, then she remembers - red hair - kisses - groping hands - struggle for dominance - ripped clothes - tangled limbs - moans - sweat - screams - release - and she smiled.

"Catherine," she murmured, sensing for the first time legs still tangled with hers, sheets twisted around a warm body pressing into her. Shifting so she can better look at the woman beside her, Ziva was again struck by the simple beauty of her. She lowered her head and gently kissed the pale, freckled shoulder. The woman next to her gave a sigh and snuggled in closer to Ziva.

"Mmmm," sighed Catherine as she slowly opened her eyes. She looked up directly into intense chocolate brown eyes and smiled. "Well hello, gorgeous."

Catherine stretched her body and moaned, half in pleasure, half in pain. "Oh, I haven't been sore like this in ages. But I won't complain, considering how I got this way!" Laughing, she leaned up and kissed Ziva.

"Hello to you, too," Ziva replied. "I'm surprised to find you still here. Not that I'm complaining, of course."

"Mmmm, me too. What time is it?"

"Ten o'clock."

"Oh my God! I need to leave!" Catherine exclaimed, jumping up.

"What is your rush? It is Saturday." Ziva lazily replied. "And I am in no hurry to see you go." She reached to pull her back onto the bed.

"Saturday?" Catherine asked. "Are you sure? Whew! That's a relief. I thought I was late for work."

As Ziva pulled her back to kiss and nibble at her neck, Catherine laughed, "Didn't you get enough of that last night?"

"No," Ziva mumbled into Catherine's throat. "There are still some positions we have not yet attempted." She grabbed Catherine and pinned her to the bed, cutting off her laughs with kisses.


Chapter 3

"Ladies and gentlemen. We will be arriving in Las Vegas in ten minutes. We hope you have enjoyed your flight."

Ziva looked out the window as the plane began its descent and thought, "That was the one and only time a one night stand lasted an entire week. I just could not get enough of that woman. I am still amazed that we never left my room once all weekend or during the week; she would come to me at night, and leave me to sleep during the day, too exhausted to do anything else. Never has anyone worn me out like that." She smiled with a sigh. "God, I could have stayed there forever. I wonder if she will even remember those days?"

As the plane taxied toward the arrival gate, Ziva frowned. "My fault. We talked often in the beginning, but I let myself grow distant. She was affecting me in a way I just could not allow, so I let it slip away. Again."

Debarking from the plane, Ziva glanced around, looking for the taxi area. She had made reservations at the Bellagio Hotel, but did not want to rent a car. From behind her, spoken close to her ear, came a sultry voice.

"Hey, gorgeous. Looking for a ride?"

Ziva whipped around, ready to assault the fool who dared to get that close to her, and stared into bright blue eyes, crinkled in amusement.

"Easy there, girlie," laughed Catherine. "Little jumpy?"

"Catherine!" Ziva exclaimed, pulling the woman in for a quick, tight hug. "I did not expect you to be here? How did you know what flight I was on?"

Laughing, Catherine responded, "Well, what kind of investigator would I be if I couldn't have found that information? And how could I let you arrive without a welcome party?"

Catherine reached out and gently stroked Ziva's cheek, a look of concern on her face. "Jeez, girl. You look awful!"

"Why thank you." Ziva replied. "And I see you are still as stunning as ever. Don't you ever age? I believe now you look younger than me."

"Still the flatterer, I see," Catherine replied, linking her arm through Ziva's. "Come on, cutie. My car is in the lot. Let's go get you settled, then you and I are going for a drink. Did you check your bags or is that all you have?"

Glancing down at her carry-on, Ziva answered, "No, this is all I have, I do not require much. I am staying at the Bellagio; perhaps we can have dinner there tonight, yes?"

"No you're not."

Ziva gave Catherine a confused look, "I am sure that is the name. Did I pronounce it incorrectly? I made the reservation yesterday."

"No, you said it correctly, but you're not staying there," Catherine countered.

"I'm not?" Digging in her bag for the confirmation email, Ziva grumbled, "But it was confirmed..."

Catherine reached out and took Ziva's hand in her own. "You're staying at my house, not some hotel. Don't even bother, David. This is not up for negotiation. You are staying with me. End of discussion."

Ziva frowned. "No, that is not necessary. I have somewhere to stay and I will not inconvenience you in such a manner. And what of Lindsey? And...your partner?"

Catherine smiled, "Ziva, it is not an inconvenience and you don't have anywhere to stay, actually. I cancelled your reservation this morning. Lindsey is away for the week and well...there is no one else there to care."

"You cancelled my..." Ziva stuttered.

"Now, don't go getting all 'Ziva-ish' on me. I know it was a little forward of me, but you're here because you need a friend. I will not let you stay alone in some hotel, when you need someone close. This way you can be comfortable and we can talk well into the night if you need to. Just let me do this for you, ok, sweetie?"

Ziva was dumbfounded by the generosity of her friend. It had never occurred to her to ask if she could stay with the redhead. It would seem too needy, and Ziva did not like looking needy.

"Look, it's fine, Ziva. Really," Catherine said softly. When Ziva sighed, Catherine knew she had won. "Good, now let's get out of here. I don't know about you but I could definitely use a drink."


On the way to Catherine's house, Ziva took the opportunity to really look at her old friend. She hadn't just been using flattery; the redhead did not look a day older then when Ziva had last seen her. Her hair was a little lighter, not as red, more a strawberry blonde now. There were a few wrinkles, mostly around the eyes and mouth. Ziva was not sure if they were because Catherine laughed often or worried often. But overall, this woman was still stunning. Still beautiful.

Catherine turned slightly, and saw Ziva staring at her. She smiled at the brunette and gave her a wink. Ziva was not very surprised to find her stomach did a flutter at that wink.

"She is still very desirable." Ziva thought. "She is just as sexy as she was that first night I saw her."


Catherine did her own assessment of the young Israeli woman sitting beside her. She had not changed much over the years. Enough of the "old" Ziva remained for her to recognize her when she saw her exit the plane, but there were also some remarkable changes. She was still slim and fit, still quite beautiful. But she had dark circles under her eyes that looked like they had been there for weeks. Her usually lovely tan skin color was now sallow. But the biggest change was her eyes. Eyes that had once danced with some internal fire now seemed dull. Dead even. Where was that bright, passionate woman she had met years ago? Even with what horrors she had seen during her early years in Mossad, there was still a sign of tenderness, of compassion in her face. Now she seemed hard, as if the horrors she had since seen had stolen her youth, her joy, her soul.

"What happened to you, Ziva?" Catherine wondered. "What did they do to you?"


"Make yourself at home, Ziva," Catherine said as she took Ziva's bag upstairs. "I'll put this in my room, and then we can talk. Okay?"

Ziva nodded and dropped onto the couch. As Catherine came back down the stairs, she paused to watch Ziva. The younger woman sat staring at the floor, a haunted expression on her face. As Catherine walked past, heading into the kitchen, the younger woman did not so much as glance up.

Catherine sat down next to Ziva, handing her a glass of wine. "Here, you look like you could use this."

Ziva took the glass, giving her a small smile in return.

"So, " Catherine began, slightly uncomfortable with the brunette's silence. "Are you going to tell me what's going on? What happened to you that you needed to call me, of all people? We haven't spoken in years, and not seen each other in almost twice that."

"You said I could call you anytime..." Ziva shrugged. "Why are you doing this? Telling me to come out here. Letting me stay in your home? I have not been a good friend to you, Catherine. Why would you be one to me?"

Catherine looked at her for a moment., "When you called me yesterday, you said you needed help. The Ziva I remember never needed help from anyone. Well, at least would never admit she did. So when you said those words, I knew this had to be real bad."

"Where is your partner, Catherine?" Ziva asked suddenly.

"My partner? Who said I had a partner?" Catherine asked, puzzled.

"You did. The last time we talked," Ziva replied. "You told me that you had finally acquired the young woman you were so smitten over. I apologize, but I do not remember her name. You said you were both very happy, as I recall."

"Sara," Catherine whispered. "Her name was Sara. That was a long time ago. So much has changed. Why did you stop calling, Ziva? You stopped answering my calls, my e-mails. What happened? It wasn't because of Sara, was it?"

Ignoring Catherine's questions, Ziva refused to change the subject. "But you were so in love, no? What happened? I always assumed the two of you were happily playing house here in the desert."

"I...I lost her." Catherine said softly. "We loved each other , but it wasn't enough to kill her demons. She was having a really hard time, with everything. I thought I could protect her, make it all better, or at least bearable. " Catherine gave a bitter laugh, "Know when it all fell apart? When I asked her to marry me. She just couldn't deal with being that open or letting anyone get that close. She said she was confused, conflicted. So she did what she always did. She ran. Ran from me, from us. Ran to him and finally, ran from us all. End of story. Not much else to say, it was a long time ago. And you didn't come this far to hear about my love life."

Taking Ziva's face in her hands, she turned her head so she could look into her eyes. "Why did you stop calling, Ziva? Why did you refuse to talk to me? I'm not going any farther until I know."

Sighing, Ziva looked at the red head, "It would seem that your Sara and I had much in common. I felt I was getting too, shall we say, attached to you. I do not do attachments well, as you know. And I did not want to complicate your life, or cause any undo tension with Sara. So, better to just disappear from your life."

"So you stopped being my friend because you liked me too much." Catherine just shook her head.

"I never stopped being your friend," Ziva retorted. "I just stopped being a part of your life. And I never forgot."

Catherine reached out and took Ziva's hand in hers. She squeezed it and smiled. "Well, it's the past. You're here now, so let me be your friend. Tell me what's going on with you. Does it have to do with the bruises on your face, or the cut on your forehead? "

Ziva reached up and tentatively touched her own face. "I thought the bruises had faded enough?"

"I'm forensics, remember? They are fading but I can still see the slight yellowing of your skin."

"A sting went bad, nothing more," Ziva declared. "The suspect got in a few good hits."

"Hmmm, seems like it was more than a few." Catherine leaned forward and looked closer at Ziva's face. "And that cut looks suspiciously like a bullet graze. So, want to tell me the real story?"

Sighing, Ziva dropped her head and softly said, "He tried to shoot me in the back of the head. I...I managed to move out of the way."

Catherine winced at Ziva's words, but knew she was not being completely truthful with her. "Sweetie, I can't help you if you hold out on me. If it's too soon to talk, say so. But don't blow smoke up my ass, okay?"

Shaking her head, Ziva looked at Catherine. "I do not mean to be evasive, Catherine. It's just not easy to talk about. But I will try. I had been undercover for a few weeks, trying to locate a man who was killing military wives who were cheating on their deployed husbands. We had narrowed the suspects down to two men. I agreed to go out with one, Hoffman, so Tony could go into his house and plant listening devices. Then it all went wrong...."

As Ziva described what took place after McGee's call with the distress code, her eyes became dim as she was transported back to that day. Catherine listened to the story but also watched Ziva's face. She saw her go away and retreat into herself. Knowing that this was more than a routine incident, she reached out and took Ziva's hands into her own while the young woman told her tale.

"...and just as I got the gun in my hand and rolled onto my back, he ran at me. He had a knife in his hand, about to plunge it into me. He was standing over me and I...I pulled the trigger. I pulled it again and again and again. He fell on top of me, staring into my eyes, but he was dead." Ziva paused, closing her eyes in silent agony. "He just kept staring at me. Accusing me, as if I was the guilty one. Just staring and staring."

Catherine pulled Ziva into her arms, and the young Israeli dissolved into tears. "Shhh, sweetie. It's okay. Go ahead and cry, get it out. No judgments here, hon." Slowly stroking her hand through Ziva's hair, Catherine continued to soothe her.

After what seemed like ages, Ziva was able to compose herself, and pulled away from Catherine's embrace, slightly embarrassed about her breakdown.

"I am sorry, Catherine. I should not be carrying on like this. I should be more in control. With a bitter laugh, Ziva said, "I bet you never thought you would see me cry like a child, yes? Neither did I."

"We all need to cry every now and then, Ziva. Even you. There's no shame in it," Catherine assured her. "But what I don't understand is why this particular case has you so shaken up? It's not like he was innocent. And I know this wasn't your first kill. All the years you were in Mossad...that would be impossible. Did he remind you of someone?"

Ziva shook her head, frowning. "I can't explain it. I want to, but... I do not think it is actually the shooting that is bothering me, but the closeness to death. I could have died that day, Catherine. I should have died that day."

"And I'm sure that wasn't the first time you ever came that close to death either."

"No, not the first," Ziva confirmed. "But...it would have been my own fault. I was almost too slow. Slow enough to feel the bullet pass by me, burn me. I...I can't talk about this anymore. Maybe later, but no more now. I just can't..."

"Okay sweetie, you don't need to say anymore right now." Catherine said with a comforting squeeze of her hand. "Let's put all of this away for now, and go have a nice meal, some drinks and maybe dancing. Like old times. I think you need to just forget for a few hours, and have some fun. What do ya say?"

Ziva was tempted to beg off, claiming exhaustion, but knew Catherine was right. She came here to relax, so why not try to have a little fun.

With a small smile, Ziva looked at Catherine, "What can it hurt? Let's do it!"


Chapter 4

After the two women had dinner and a bottle of wine, Catherine suggested they go to the club at the Tangiers, where they had first met. Looking at the gorgeous Israeli woman dressed in a white button down shirt and tight black leather pants, she could imagine holding her close, dancing, and running her hands over her very tempting looking ass.

"Come on, Ziva, dance with me," Catherine pleaded.

"No, no," Ziva laughed, shaking her head. "I am not near drunk enough for that! I would be more than happy to sit and watch you dance. As I recall, it is a very pleasurable sight."

Catherine laughed and called back as she walked away, already beginning to dance, "Your loss, David! Join me if you change your mind!"

Ziva smiled as she watched the redhead waltz onto the dance floor, enjoying the sexy view she presented. Catherine was wearing a tight fitting red oriental style dress that hugged all the right curves. The silk of the dress hugged her chest and hips in a seductive way that just made Ziva want to run her hands down her body. Ziva couldn't help but smile as that image appeared in her mind. She sat sipping her drink as Catherine began to dance with the first woman she came to.

Catherine moved in a suggestive manner, dancing up on the young woman like she was having sex with her. Ziva didn't know what disturbed her more, the fact that she was getting jealous of the girl, or the look of desire on the young woman's face. Either way, it was quickly becoming time to intervene.

As she slammed back her second drink, she saw the younger woman pull Catherine in for a searing kiss.

"Oh, no you don't!" Ziva exclaimed, jumping up from the bar. She strode over to the couple, giving the young woman a look that froze her in her tracks. With an evil smile, Ziva said, "You are finished dancing now, yes? Mind if I cut in?"

Not waiting for a reply and ignoring Catherine's shocked expression, Ziva grabbed the older woman and pulled her close.

"Ziva, what are you...?"

"I believe you asked me to dance," Ziva remarked. "Well, I am ready to dance."

Ziva pulled Catherine close to her and began to move against her. Catherine raised her arms to place them around Ziva's neck, and gave her an amused, if slightly annoyed look.

"Umm, little heavy handed there, Ziva. Don't you think?"

"No. I do not think. She is quite lucky actually. I could have easily killed her with my credit card."

Catherine pulled back a little to give Ziva an amazed look, "Kill her with a..."

Ziva just shrugged as she pulled Catherine back into her embrace. "Meh. It was just one suggested method. There are many others. And she was rude. She should not have put her hands on you in such a manner. I believe there is protocol for such things, no? You are my date, therefore you do not kiss anyone else."

"Is that so?"

Sighing, Ziva looked at Catherine, "Do you wish to dance or talk? I prefer the dance myself, but I am bendable."

Catherine laughed, "I forgot what you could be like, Ziva. And it's flexible."

"Is it? Hmmm, same difference."

As the song continued, Ziva placed her hands on Catherine's waist, moving their bodies together to the rhythm of the song. Her hands slowly moved, one up Catherine's back, the other down to cup her ass, enjoying the feel of the silk dress as well as Catherine. In one motion, she slipped her leg between the older woman's and pressed Catherine's hips tight against her. Catherine gasped at the multiple sensations assailing her at once. She was about to react to the hand on her bottom, when the overwhelming sensation of Ziva grinding against her blew all thoughts out of her head.

Catherine laid her head on Ziva's shoulder, surrendering to the feelings and the memories that were evoked by this exotic woman.

"I forgot how good it felt to be held by you," Catherine whispered into Ziva's ear.

Ziva kissed her lightly on the throat and whispered back in a hoarse voice, "I did not forget, Catherine. I have never forgotten."

Catherine shivered at the warm breath against her throat, "Maybe we should head back to my place now?"

"Are we finished dancing?"

"For now, " murmured the redhead.


Once they were in the house, Catherine pulled Ziva into her arms and kissed her hard. Ziva returned the kiss with equal intensity, pushing her tongue against Catherine's soft lips until the older woman allowed her entry. Catherine moaned into Ziva at the sensation and taste of the woman's mouth.

Ziva's hand slid up the hem of her dress, touching heated flesh. She trailed her finger tips along Catherine's thigh, then on the return down, lightly scratched her skin with her nails. Catherine moaned at the sensation, pushing her body harder into Ziva's.

Ziva broke the kiss to lower her lips to Catherine's throat, and began to place light little kisses along its length. As the older woman's threw her head back, to grant her greater access, Ziva begins to nip and bite the tender flesh. Feeling Catherine shivering at her touch, Ziva latched onto the area where the base of her throat met her shoulder and sucked deeply.

"Oh, God, Ziva. That feels so incredibly good! It's been so damn long..."

Ziva lifts her head and smiled seductively at the redhead. "Where is your bedroom, Catherine?"

Catherine took Ziva by the hand and led her upstairs. Once in her bedroom, Ziva turned to her and looked deep into her eyes.

"Is this what you really want, Catherine? Or do you assume it is what I expect?"

"It's what I want, Ziva. It's what I need," Catherine whispered as she pulled Ziva to her.

Ziva wasted no time pulling Catherine's dress from her body. Never breaking the kiss, she reached up to Catherine's neck ,pulling down the zipper. The soft material slipped soundlessly over Catherine's shoulders, then hips and to the floor. She reached behind and undid her bra, pulling it off and throwing it to the side.

She walked her backwards towards the bed, and gently laid her down. Staring intently into Catherine's eyes, Ziva removed her shirt and bra, tossing them carelessly aside. Catherine sat up and reached for the button on Ziva's tight leather pants, but Ziva stilled her hand and shook her head.

"I wish to leave them on."

Kneeling on the bed, she pushed Catherine back down onto her back and kissed her again. Her hands had begun to explore the soft freckled skin, pausing to cup her breast lightly.

Catherine moaned impatiently, making Ziva chuckle. "Patience, my dear friend. You will get all you want, but first I must reacquaint myself with your beautiful body."

She moved down slowly, kissing Catherine's neck, her shoulders, and down her arms. She continued to move downward until she was level with her breasts. She slowly kissed each one, tracing small circles with her tongue. First the left, then the right, teasing until each nipple was hard and erect.

"Time has dimmed my memory of how lovely you are, Catherine. With each flick of my tongue, my memories of you sharpen, as does my desire."

Catherine groaned as the effects of Ziva's words hit her. She bowed her back, trying to increase the contact of the Israeli's lips on her breasts.

Tenderly flicking her tongue over the aroused nub, Ziva gave a low moan and pulled the nub into her mouth. She began to suck gently but was overcome with the emotions triggered by the sounds coming from the woman beneath her. She sucked harder on the raised tip of her breast, biting with her teeth, then rolling her tongue across. As she removed her lips, she blew cool breath onto Catherine, making her groan, and moved to the other to repeat her actions.

Catherine felt as if she was going to lose her mind. It had been a long time since anyone had touched her like this, and longer still since she felt this woman's talented mouth upon her. The fire running through her blood was threatening to end this moment before it had gotten very far. With a whimper of regret, she forcibly pulled Ziva's face from her chest, and back up to her waiting mouth.

Ziva used her legs to push Catherine's apart and settled her thigh between the older woman's legs. She ground down hard into Catherine's center as she kissed her deeply.

"Please, Ziva. Not sure how much more I can take," panted Catherine. "I need to feel you touch me. Please, baby. Touch me!"

Ziva moved slightly and lowered her hand to Catherine's center. She moaned aloud when she felt how deliciously wet her old lover was. This was her doing, she knew. Right or wrong, she was making her friend and past lover this aroused.

She slid her fingers through the wetness, down to the core of Catherine, and slipped in two fingers. Catherine let out a growl when she felt her fingers enter. She gripped Ziva's shoulders tightly with her hands, and pushed against the invading digits.

Ziva began to slowly thrust her fingers in and out, running her thumb across Catherine's sensitive clit as she pulled out slightly. Each time she repeated this movement, Catherine sobbed with pleasure. After the third slow thrust, Ziva began to speed up her movements, pushing harder and faster into Catherine.

Catherine wrapped her arms around Ziva's back, and with each thrust, dug her nails into the brunette's back while pushing her hips upwards.

"Ziva, Ziv, Zi..." moaned Catherine with every thrust. "So close now...Make me come, Ziva! Make me come for you!"

Ziva gave her fingers a twist as her thumb began to rub and flick at Catherine's clit. With every forward thrust, she curled her fingers so they would scrape and press against the velvet softness as she pulled back. Catherine's cries became louder as she chanted Ziva's name over and over again like a mantra to the Goddesses. Her climax was sudden and hard, her cries became unintelligible, her body tensing and her muscles going rigid. Ziva continued her rhythmic motions as she helped Catherine ride out wave after wave of orgasms.

Catherine fell back against the pillow, panting and senseless, as Ziva kissed her tenderly on the neck. She lay there, unable to move or speak, only able to struggle to breathe as Ziva pulled her gently into her arms and held her as she came back to earth.

"My...God! I...haven't...come...like...that...in...ages," gasped Catherine. "I see...you haven't..lost any...of your…skills...over the... years."

"I have been practicing, "Ziva replied with a laugh.

Catherine snuggled into Ziva's arms and whispered, "Thank you," softly against the younger woman's skin.

Ziva pulled her tighter in her arms in response, kissing her tenderly on the top of her head.

They lay like that together for a few minutes, and Ziva began to drowse. Catherine lifted herself up onto her shoulder and kissed her passionately on the lips.

"I've learned a few things since we last saw each other too, ya know," Catherine growled huskily as her hand traveled down to undo the button on Ziva's pants.

Ziva reached down and took Catherine's hand into her own. "No, my love. I'm sure you have learned amazing things, but that will be for another time, yes?"

Catherine looked at her, puzzled. "But I want to return the pleasure you just gave me, baby. Why wait until another time?"

Ziva stared up at the ceiling, unsure of how to answer her without hurting her. The emotions running through her were so complex, even she couldn't explain them right then.

"I do not deserve that."

"Don't deserve that?" Catherine repeated, totally lost and confused by Ziva's words.

"No. I do not deserve that. I made love to you because I wanted you, Catherine. Do not doubt that for a moment. But I am not ready to allow myself the pleasure you offer in return."

"Oh, baby. What can I do?" Catherine said, cupping Ziva's face in her hand.

Ziva placed her hand over Catherine's and smiled sadly at her, "I do not know, Catherine. I do not know. Perhaps if you just held me in your arms, that might help me at least to sleep for once."

Catherine didn't reply. She rolled onto her back and pulled Ziva into her arms. As the brunette laid her head on Catherine's shoulder, she pulled up the sheet to cover them and wrapped her arms tightly around her.

"I'll hold you for as long as you like, baby. You're safe here with me. I promise you that. It's okay to sleep now, my love. We'll talk more tomorrow. Tonight, just sleep."

She looked down to kiss Ziva on the forehead, and saw she was already asleep, cuddled tightly in her arms.


Catherine was wrenched from a deep satisfying sleep by the body thrashing next to her. Ziva was crying out in her sleep, visibly fighting someone or something.

"Leave me alone! I do not care that you are dead! I am Mossad! Mossad does not regret, does not feel, does not care! Stop staring at meeee!" Ziva screamed, leaping up from Catherine's embrace.

"Damn!" Catherine yelled. "Easy, baby, easy! It's okay; no one here but us. It's all right...just a bad dream!"

Ziva turned to her with a look of horror on her face. She had forgotten where she was and who she was with. She looked at Catherine as if she were a ghost, and reared back as if to flee.

"Baby! Baby! Calm down, Ziva. It's okay, you're safe here. Look at me, it's Catherine, remember?"

Ziva was visibly shaking as she began to realize where she was. But that knowledge didn't calm her, it mortified her.

"That's it," Catherine encouraged, "Breathe, baby. Breathe. Easy now, just breathe with me."

"Catherine? Oh my God! Catherine! I am sorry! I...I need to go! I need to get out of here, now!"

Catherine reached out and grabbed Ziva's arm as she started to jump from the bed.

"No, no. You need to stay right here, Ziva, with me. It's okay. No reason to be embarrassed, sweetie. We all get night terrors now and then," Catherine softly told her. "Come here, baby. "

She pulled Ziva back and into her arms again. She gently stroked the young brunette's hair and continued to whisper that she was safe. Tears fell silently down Ziva's cheeks, as she pressed her face tightly against Catherine's chest. She didn't want the other woman to look at her, to see her shame. But she also didn't want her to let go, either. Catherine understood. She knew how proud Ziva was and how her Mossad training had hardened the woman over the years. So she just continued to stroke her hair, rub her back and wait for her to either speak or fall back to sleep.

Ziva's breathing finally slowed to normal and her tears had stopped. She glanced up at Catherine almost shyly and whispered, "Thank you, Catherine." Ziva then closed her eyes and fell into a undisturbed sleep for the remainder of the night.

Catherine, though, couldn't sleep. She laid there the rest of the night, cradling Ziva in her arms, concern for the young Israeli etched on her face.

"What the hell is happening to you, Ziva?" Catherine whispered to her sleeping friend and lover. "Why does one shooting out of hundreds haunt you like this?"

She was determined to give Ziva the time she needed, but she knew the only way to help her was to get her to open up and talk. This could destroy the brunette, if she didn't find out what was causing her such a disproportionate amount of pain.


Chapter 5

Catherine woke in the morning, and reached for Ziva, only to find the bed empty. Her first thought was Ziva had another nightmare and managed to leave the house without waking her. Then she smelled the unmistakable scent of coffee.

She got up, put on her robe and headed downstairs in search of her friend. In the kitchen, she found a half-full pot of coffee, but no Ziva.

She walked over to the sliding doors that led to the patio, and there she found her, sitting in the farthest corner, cup in hand, staring out with a blank, expressionless look in her eyes. She was haphazardly dressed, wearing the same white shirt from the night before, now rumpled, with the sleeves rolled to her elbows, and a pair of olive colored cargo pants. Her feet were bare, tucked under her.

"Ziva?" she asked, as she slid open the door. "You okay, sweetie?"

When she received no response from the brunette, she stepped closer and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Ziva leapt up from her seat, dropping her cup, and seized Catherine's hand, pulling her arm painfully behind her back. She yanked her close, inches from her own face. The look in her eyes was blank and dark, promising violence or worse.

"Owwww!" Catherine screeched. "Damn it, Ziva, it's me! Let me go!"

Ziva gripped her harder, still not coming out of her trance. She bared her teeth and growled low in her throat.

For a moment, Catherine actually felt fear. She relaxed her body in surrender, so Ziva would not perceive her as a threat. She spoke softly and calmly to the tense woman in front of her. "Ziva. Listen to me, okay? I am not trying to hurt you. Look at me, I'm Catherine. I'm not Hoffman, not a terrorist or a serial killer. Just look at me. Come on, honey. Come back to me. I'm not a threat, I'm a friend."

For a few terrorizing seconds, Catherine didn't think Ziva heard her, then she felt the brunette's hold relax. Her eyes began to lighten and focus on Catherine's face. She sighed with relief when she finally saw the glimmer of recognition appear in those brown eyes.

"Cath...Catherine," she stammered. "How did you get...? " Ziva saw how she was holding Catherine and her face fell. "Oh my God, Catherine! Did I hurt you? Please tell me I did not hurt you! I thought you were..."

"No, I'm fine. Really, I'm fine," Catherine replied, rubbing her shoulder after Ziva let go. "You scared the shit out of me, girl! What were you thinking about that made you act like that?"

"I was not thinking. I was trained to shut down all emotions and thoughts, to regain energy and strength. Basic Mossad training I have not had to use in years. I guess I went too deep this time. I cannot apologize enough, Catherine. I would never harm you. Ever!"

Dropping her head into her hands, Ziva physically shook. "I fear I am losing my mind!"

Catherine pulled her into a tight hug, placing a tender kiss on the top of her head.

"Nonsense! You're not losing your mind. I won't deny you're in trouble, but you are not crazy, Ziva. I want so much to help you, baby, but you have to be willing to open up. I hardly know anything about your time with Mossad, and what I know of your job now, well, dealing with monsters every day can take a toll on anyone."

Ziva sighed, "Perhaps I have become photogenic, two minds in one body, both disintegrating and losing touch with the reality around me."

"Schizophrenic. And no, I don't believe that."

"Yes, schizophrenic," Ziva muttered in a tortured whisper. "Preferable to what may be happening, I think."

"What could you think is happening to you that is worse than developing a mental illness?" Catherine asked, incredulous.

Ziva looked at her with eyes filled with pain and doubt. She wanted to explain, but she found herself unable to voice her fears. Saying them aloud would make them real, and she just couldn't deal with that. She feared the internal war that was raging within her mind and soul to such a degree that she couldn't find the words to verbalize it.

Shaking her head, she looked away from Catherine, "I don't know. I just know there are scarier things then being considered crazy. " Her voice trembling, Ziva turned to Catherine. "I cannot talk about this any longer. Enough for now, yes? Please?"

"All right," Catherine sighed. "But you are going to have to talk about it sooner or later."

Nodding her head to indicate she understood, Ziva quietly said, "I will leave if you feel I am a danger to you, Catherine. I cannot...cannot bear the thought that I frighten you."

"You don't frighten me, Ziva. You're not a monster. I trust you implicitly. I would go so far as to say I would trust you with my life."

"Not a monster. Are you so sure, Catherine? I believed my brother to not be a monster, but I was wrong. Can two be born from the same devil and one be demon and one angel?"

Catherine didn't understand Ziva's reference to her brother, but knew that the young woman had to be mistaken. This beautiful, intelligent woman could not possibly be a monster. Monsters don't care, they don't feel, and they certainly don't love. She believed Ziva was capable of all of these.

"I'm sorry Ziva, but I just don't understand. You have a brother?"

"Had. I had a half-brother. I killed him," Ziva answered with no emotion.

"Killed him? What the fuck are you talking about?"

Confused, Ziva glanced at Catherine, "Oh yes. I have forgotten that you do not know what brought me to NCIS. At least not the real reason. We have not spoken in many years, you are not aware of this. I will explain when I tell you the rest."

"So you keep promising." Catherine looked at her watch, frowning. "Damn! I have to get to work! I'm only scheduled for four hours today. Will you be all right here alone? I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Yes, yes. I will be fine. Go to work and Catherine...please be careful."

"I will," Catherine softly replied, placing a kiss on Ziva's forehead. "Call me on my cell if you need anything."

Ziva smiled and leaned forward, kissing Catherine softly on the lips. "I will."


When Catherine returned home later that day, she found Ziva exactly where she had left her: sitting in the far corner of the patio, staring off into space, lost in her own nightmares. Not willing to make the same mistake she had earlier, she called to Ziva loudly, to alert her to her presence.

"Ziva! I'm back, sweetie."

This time Ziva immediately turned around to acknowledge her.

"Hello, Catherine. It is safe to come closer if you'd like."

Smiling at Ziva, Catherine walked out onto the patio, and placed a light kiss on Ziva's lips. She ran her hand through Ziva's hair and down her cheek.

"Have you been out here all day? You okay, sweetie?" Catherine asked.

"I have been thinking. So to answer your question, no, I do not think I am okay."

Catherine looked at Ziva for a long moment, then made a decision. "All right, Ziva. I think you've had enough time to get yourself ready to talk. Come inside with me and start telling me what is going on. I'll put on some coffee, and we can sit and you can share."

When Ziva did not respond or move, Catherine bent down to look directly into her eyes, "Not a suggestion, hon. You called me because you needed help and you trust me. I can't do a goddamn thing for you if you don't start talking. So inside. Now!"

Ziva glared at her, then nodded her head and rose, walking back into the house.

After Catherine came back into the living room with coffee for both of them, she sat and looked expectantly at Ziva.

"You know that I am Mossad, yes? But do you fully realize what that means?"

When Catherine shook her head no, Ziva continued. "Mossad is the institute for Intelligence and Special Operations created by the State of Israel to collect information, analyze intelligence and perform special covert operations beyond its borders. The special covert operations were my specialty. It could involve anything at all including preventing terrorist acts against Israeli targets abroad, producing strategic, political and operational intelligence or bringing Jews home from countries where official Aliya agencies are not allowed to operate. That is the official stance, you understand.

I was part of a Special Operations Unit called Metsada, which specialized in assassinations, paramilitary operations, sabotage & psychological warfare.

To be blunt, I could, on any given day, be a spy, a soldier, a saboteur, or an assassin. I excel in interrogation and torture. I have been trained to kill in many inventive ways, some that would leave no trace to indicate the death was anything but natural or accidental. Some killings were done at a distance, some close enough to see the light leave their eyes. We have a saying in Mossad: 'Knives do not run out of bullets.' It all was decided on what orders I received. I was trained to go where I was told and do what needed to be done. Questions were not an option, not that I would have ever considered questioning any command I was given."

"Is that why you think you are a monster?" Catherine interrupted.

"No, that is only part of what makes me a monster. Israel has a strong sense of duty. We are taught early in life that service to our State is our duty. Mossad teaches that our purpose is to uphold the values of justice, integrity, morality, humility, personal responsibility, reliability, discipline and discretion. So anything I may have done was for these purposes and to protect my country, you understand?"

"I think I do, but it sounds a little like brainwashing to me," Catherine said.

"No. The brainwashing, as you say, did not start with the values of Mossad. That came from the blood that ran in the streets of my home town. From the history of all the atrocities that have been perpetrated against my people and my land. I lost my little sister, Tali, in a Hamas suicide bombing. She was sixteen and the best of us. Tali had compassion. After Tali's death, all I wanted was revenge."

"I am so sorry, Ziva. Was that what they used to recruit you to Mossad?" Catherine asked.

"I was Mossad before Tali's death. It just focused my work in a certain direction."

"So who recruited you? Father? Brother? Boyfriend?" persisted Catherine.

"Aunt, sister, lesbian lover." Ziva replied, smiling at Catherine's jaw-dropped expression. "I kid you, Catherine. I volunteered."

Catherine playfully slapped Ziva's arm, "Oh, you! Well, that explains your strong work ethics and discipline but not why you believe yourself to be a monster."

"Understand, my love, assassins are not born, they must be trained. It is basic human morals to not want to take another life. Unless you or someone you love is in danger, most will hesitate to kill another human being. We are taught from childhood, through our parents and our religions, that it is the worst of sins. To be a successful assassin you cannot have such morals or doubts. To think of your targets as fellow humans or to hesitate before a kill, is to die."

"But," Catherine hesitated, not sure if her questions would insult the young woman or cause her to stop talking. "How can you turn off something like that? I mean, it's the unfortunate part of any police officer's or soldier's life to know that one day you may have to take a life. I'm the first to tell someone to not let it get to you, not to take it home with you. I have had the misfortune to have taken a life to either save myself or save someone else. But there is no way you do it casually! Morals can't be that easily set aside!"

"I did not say it was easy. I said it was necessary," Ziva replied.

"Still. With the exception of sociopaths or someone mentally damaged, no one can pretend that the person they just killed wasn't a living, breathing human. Someone just like you in many ways. They had families, friends and lovers. They laughed and cried, just like you," disputed Catherine.

"Perhaps one of the traits of a good assassin is to be a sociopath," Ziva contended. "Mossad's training is designed to remove such obstacles, no matter how deeply ingrained they may be. You have heard of immersion therapy, yes?"

Catherine nodded. "Yeah , it's where they take your greatest fear and basically immerse you in it, until you can tolerate it. It usually is a slow process; they try to make you associate something comfortable with something uncomfortable. Last stage is facing the fear head on, if you're afraid of the dark, they lock you in a dark cellar or afraid of close spaces, lock you in a coffin. It can be extreme, but studies show it works."

"My training was similar to that, but more intense. You are tested and evaluated to see what your fears are. From the smallest fear to the worse imaginable fear you possess, " Ziva explained. "But they are also interested in what you love, what makes you happy. These things can be used as rewards or...are you following me? They would turn something that once brought you joy and pleasure into something painful, hateful, until you stop showing whatever emotion you had for it."

"Why? Why in God's name would they do that to you?"

Ziva gave her a quizzical look. "To kill any emotions I may be subject to, of course. I will give you an example. I had a friend when I was young; we knew each other from the time we could walk. As we became teens, she...how should I say? Became a very good friend. After I had joined Mossad, I did not see her as often as before, and I missed her. They knew of my affection for her, if not the extent of it. When I performed some exercise above expectations, I would be allowed to see her. Sometimes I even spent an entire day with her, doing whatever we pleased. When they were sure I had begun to associate my performance with seeing my friend, things changed.

It was a subtle change at first. She would not arrive at the scheduled time, or would cancel at the last minute. I would be disappointed, but not hurt. Then they would show me tapes of her saying unkind things about me to some other girl, or show me that she went somewhere else when she claimed to be ill. These little things hurt, but part of me did not believe them. This continued until I stopped having any type of reaction to them at all. I had become numb to the slights my friend rained on me. As I became used to these insults, they would turn them up a little every week. I would be shown her going shopping with someone else, saying I was not a good friend to her, saying she hated me, show her dating a boy we both knew and so on. After a while, I had begun to hate her for these betrayals to the point that I no longer requested to see her as my reward.

Then one day, they told me that she had requested to see me and gave me a letter from her. In the letter she apologized for her treatment of me, begging me to see her on a particular day. She swore that nothing would keep her away. I...I weakened. I wanted to believe that she still loved me as I had loved her, so I agreed. When the designated time arrived, she did not show. Hours later, I was taken into a room with a television. It was showing the news, some kind of street festival. In the crowd I saw her. Laughing and joking with the boy from before at the time she swore she would come and see me. Something in me broke then. I thought that nothing she had ever said to me had been truth. I watched as they danced in the street together, ate from a street cart, all the while laughing and touching. Anger bloomed in my heart to a degree I had never experienced before. When she pulled him close for a kiss, something in me died.

I then watched them walk into a cafe, arm in arm, looking happy and in love. Minutes later, the cafe...the cafe exploded. Glass, wood, body parts were thrown everywhere. Nothing of the building remained. She was gone...gone forever. The last image was of a stuffed toy, won at the festival I suppose, burning in the street. I had seen that same toy in her arms as she walked into the cafe. Then the screen went black. I sat there for just a moment, then stood and returned to my quarters. I did not shed a single tear, that day or any day after. I felt nothing, no remorse, no grief. I had learned my first real lesson as Mossad. Everyone will lie to you, and everyone will leave you alone, no matter how much you may have loved them."

"Jesus Christ!" exclaimed Catherine. "They actually killed the girl?"

Ziva shook her head, "No. I found out years later that she was alive. She had been told that I had been transferred to another location and did not wish to see her again. By then, it did not matter. She had been dead to me for so long, and I knew that the part of me that cared for her once had also died years ago. "

"Oh Ziva, "Catherine sobbed. "That's so horrible."

Ziva shrugged and continued. "It was necessary. I understood that then. I was taught that emotion was weakness, and weakness could lead to not only my death, but the death of my compatriots. Every day, without fail, I was told that no one could be trusted. Not family, friends, strangers or lovers. No one. Simple human emotions were deemed to be unnecessary. What need do you have for emotions? It did not matter if the emotion was good or bad, to express it was weakness and failure. After enough time, this became believable to me. I examined my emotions and tried to correlate them to some reaction. Anger would make me careless; I could fail in my mission. Sadness made me vulnerable to being duped, or could lead to my thinking twice when I had a job to do. Happiness had the same potential. And love...love had the potential to destroy not only my life, but my mind and soul as well. It has been documented through history how many empires have fallen because of love. How many great leaders were brought to ruin by love. How many innocents sacrificed themselves in the name of love.

So year by year, I abandoned all such things until there was nothing left but Mossad. Was I lonely? I suppose I was, but I did not waste time thinking about it."

"But, what about comfort?" Catherine asked. "Every human craves the touch of another human. We need it. To have someone hold you in the night."

"Meh, what is comfort, but an emotion?" Ziva retorted. "I learned quickly that you take comfort, as you say, where you can find it. The physical aspects of it, the need to touch skin, to feel physical pleasure or experience the release that comes with it? It can be found anywhere, at anytime. Does it matter from whom you receive that release? No, it does not. Man, woman, what does it matter. It is a purely a biological response, nothing more."

Ziva paused, her internal struggle naked on her face. "I used to know who I was. At least who I was made to be. I had no fears, no doubts. I knew my place and my purpose. All that has changed, and I do not know how to handle it. I do not know why it even matters to me!"

Catherine reached out and gently stroked Ziva's arm. "It matters because you are human, no matter how hard they tried to change that."

Ziva stared at her for a long moment, debating. "Do you know why I came to this country? Because Jenny thought I could stop a potential international incident. And because Mossad knew I could take care of the problem in whatever manner was necessary. My half-brother, Ari, had gone rogue, it seemed. He was working with both the Americans and a terrorist group. That was not known at the time of course, Mossad claimed the charges were a lie. NCIS, Gibbs specifically, claimed these things, as well as the charge that he had murdered one of their agents, Kate Todd. I did not believe this to be true. Not because he was not capable; he was. But because it served no purpose. I was ordered to get him back to Israel any way I could. I had every intention of carrying out those orders."

Ziva was silent as she remembered the events that ultimately led to her current condition. She continued, "The team members of NCIS did not exactly welcome me with open arms, but that was understandable. I could appreciate that they lost a valuable member of their team, it was the emotional ties they all seemed to share with this woman, and each other, that I could not grasp. This was not personal. I had a job to do, nothing more. But for them it was very personal. The more I listened to them, watched them, learned about them, the more I began to doubt. Gibbs explained to me what my brother had done and why. I did not believe this either, but I said I would give him the chance to prove his case. I told my brother everything, so he assumed I was on his side, but I was in a flux. I didn't know anymore what was true and what was false. If I trusted no one, then which of these two were telling me the truth? I had to see for myself. When Gibbs went to confront Ari, I followed. At the time, I did not know if I would have to kill Gibbs to save Ari, but if I found him to be the truthful one, I would not hesitate.

I stayed at the top of the stairs and listened. I should have been shocked by what I heard, but somehow I was not. Ari was telling Gibbs what a monster our father had created. Confessing to killing Kate for no other reason but to bring Gibbs pain. Everything Mossad, my father, had told me was a lie. Everything NCIS had told me was the truth. My mind was in turmoil, my heart, the heart I thought was stone, was breaking. Then I heard Ari tell Gibbs he was going to kill him. I could not allow that to happen. Ari had brought enough shame on Mossad, on Israel. Before he could even finish his sentence...I shot him. For the first time in my life, I had killed blood. I looked at him, lying there in a pool of blood, my brother, my family, dead by my hand. And all I could do was pray for his eternal soul."


Chapter 6

"That is when the first cracks appeared, I think. If what Ari had said was true, and usually what is said to someone you are about to kill is, then what did that make me? We had the same training, the same beliefs and the same father. We were both groomed to be assassins, he excelled past my own skills, and was considered a 'mole in Hamas'. That could have easily been me. Now that he was dead, I would be considered the top assassin and expected to replace him. Would I, too, slowly become a monster?"

"No. I refuse to believe you have such anger and hate in you," Catherine said.

"But you cannot be sure of that. I felt as responsible for the death of Kate Todd as Ari truly was. Everyone saw me as a substitute for Ari. I looked into her life, her history. She was a beautiful young woman, someone I would have liked to know. I heard stories about her and found myself becoming infatuated with her. The idea of her. She became my 'what if', you understand? What if we had met before all this transpired? Could I have prevented her death? Would she have befriended me? Loved me? It is crazy to even wonder such impossible things, but yet there they were, in my head. “Tears began to fall slowly down Ziva's cheeks.

Catherine quickly moved over to her and placed her arm around her. "Oh, honey. It's not unusual to wonder what things could have been like. We all do it. You felt you knew her simply because you had immersed yourself into her life. But you were not responsible for her death, or for any other action your brother committed."

Ziva shook her head, sadly. "I wish I could believe that, Catherine. Perhaps if at the time, there was someone I could have shared this with..."

"Well, you have me now." Catherine rubbed up and down Ziva's back slowly, trying to soothe the younger woman. "You spend too much time alone, Ziva. You should have let someone in years ago. I understand why you didn't, but wasn't there anyone in D.C. you could have confided in? Someone on the NCIS team?"

Ziva laughed bitterly. "Someone on the team? No, they all blamed me as much as I blamed myself. I thought perhaps Abbey, she is the forensic scientist, perhaps she and I could have a connection. But it became obvious to me that the relationship between her and Agent Todd was not like the others had. She made no secret about her dislike of me. I knew that every time she looked at me...every time, she saw Ari. She saw Kate, dead. I could see it in her eyes when she looked at me. I saw it every time I looked in the mirror; Ari and the monster just beneath my skin."

As tears streamed down Ziva's cheeks, she placed her hands over her face.

Catherine pulled her into her arms. "Shhh, baby, don't cry." Catherine held her tightly and began to slowly rock her back and forth like she would a child.

At first, Ziva resisted the contact, then crumbled. She didn't know how she was supposed to react; no one had ever dared touch her or try to hold her without her permission. But it felt strangely good; comforting. She wrapped her arms around Catherine, in a desperate manner, burying her face into her chest, sobbing.

Catherine expected Ziva to pull away. She was surprised by her sudden reaction and vulnerability. "I have you, darling. Go ahead and cry, get it out. Get as much out as you can, I can take it." Catherine gently stroked Ziva's back and her hair, murmuring useless words of comfort. "No more tonight, ok? You don't have to tell me anymore right now. Okay, sweetie?"

Ziva nodded her head into Catherine, refusing to raise her head. She simply tightened her grip and cried.

Catherine continued to stroke her hair. Holding her tight, she placed small, tender kisses on her head, whispering to her between each one. The two women stayed like that for over thirty minutes, neither wanting or willing to break that contact.

Ziva slowly began to compose herself, but kept her face pressed against Catherine. She raised her head slightly, and snuggled her face into Catherine's neck. Catherine assumed that Ziva was just adjusting, needing air after pressing her face so tightly against her chest. She gasped and jumped when she felt Ziva's soft lips against her throat. One light, airy touch, more of a whisper than anything else. Then another, a little firmer. Soon the kisses were no longer a whisper, nor ghostly, but real. "Catherine..." Ziva groaned deeply into Catherine's neck.

Catherine pulled back, slightly, and looked down, "Ziva...you don't have to..."

Ziva lifted her head and captured Catherine's tempting lips with her own. The unexpected sensation caused Catherine's body to arch and her to moan. Quickly the kiss deepened and became passionate as Catherine grasped Ziva's face, crushing her lips against the Israeli woman's with a desperate need. She was amazed at the feelings that this woman awakened in her; feelings she thought she had put away years ago. Not since Sara had left her had she desired anyone as much as she wanted Ziva.

Ziva pushed her backwards onto the couch, climbing on top of her as she went down. Catherine moaned as she felt a strong, firm thigh shoved between hers. Unconsciously she began to grab and pull at Ziva's body, needing to touch any part of her she could. Her mind floated away as her body took control. Ziva had begun to move her body, pressing her thigh harder against Catherine's sensitive center, causing her to throw her leg over Ziva's hips, pressing her in place.

As Ziva started to kiss her along her jaw and down her throat, Catherine's mind slammed back into her brain, sending out a panicky signal of "Stop!" Her eyes flew open, as if it was spoken aloud.

"I don't want to stop!" She screamed inside.

"You need to stop this!" Her mind screamed back. "Think, damn it!"

The one thing Catherine didn't want to do, wasn't even sure she could do, was think. Gathering all her strength, she pulled Ziva's head up, forcing her to look into her eyes. "Ziva...Ziva. Wait."

Ziva didn't register the words right away; she simply smiled at Catherine and started to lower her head again. Catherine's firm grasp stopped her. Ziva looked at her, confusion flashing on her face.

"Wait? For what should I wait?"

Catherine moved her leg, releasing her hold on Ziva, and pushed forward so she could sit up. "Just...just wait, baby. I can't let you do this...not like this," Catherine panted.

"I do not understand. Let me do this? What do you mean, not like this?"

Catherine took a deep breath, trying to clear the lust from her brain. "Ziva, you wanted my help. This is not helping you."

Laughing, Ziva said, "But it will help tremendously."

"I'm serious, Ziva! This is not about me. Just give me a minute, okay?" Catherine took a deep breath, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart. "I want to show you something. Will you let me do that?"

"Now? You must show me something now?"

Catherine nodded and stood up from the couch. "Yes, now." She reached her hand out to Ziva. "Do you think you can you try to trust me? If you think you can, then come with me."

Ziva stared at her for a moment, hesitating. Catherine's request was bigger than the redhead may realize. Coming to a decision, she took Catherine's hand and stood.

Catherine led her upstairs and into the master bathroom. She motioned for her to sit as she closed the door. She moved over to the bath, and turned on the water, letting it get to the right temperature before adding scented oils. She could feel Ziva's eyes on her and knew she wanted to ask what the hell was going on. To her credit, she held her tongue.

Catherine turned back to Ziva and knelt in front of her, taking both her hands into her own.

"Sweetie, I know how hard it is for you to give up control of any situation. But I'm asking you to give it up, just for a little while. You have been through hell. Not just these past few weeks, but for years. And if I'm understanding correctly, and I'm pretty sure I am, you don't allow anyone close enough to offer you simple kindness. Let me take care of you, just for tonight. Let me show you the value of comfort. "

"Catherine, this is not necessary. I do not need to be taken care of. Let me take you into the bedroom and make love to you," Ziva said, running her fingers down Catherine's cheek.

Catherine looked at her tenderly for a moment, "You mean offer me a biological release for my tension, don't you? Hell, I could offer you that same release a hundred times over. What I'm offering you, is comfort. You don't believe in it, I know, it's just a silly emotion. But it is real, and it's right here, if you're willing to take the chance."

The room filled with steam and the aroma of vanilla and jasmine, scents believed to have a calming effect and boost a sense of well-being. Catherine stood, pulling Ziva to her feet with her. She looked into her eyes and asked, "Are you?"

Ziva stared into beautiful blue eyes, searching for any sign of deceit or betrayal. Seeing nothing but what could only be described as love in Catherine's eyes, she nodded.

Catherine slowly began to unbutton Ziva's shirt, pushing it off her shoulders and placing it aside. She gently reached behind her and unhooked her bra, pausing for just a moment to appreciate the beauty of the skin that was being revealed. She undid the button on Ziva's pants, and together with her panties, pushed them over her hips. Ziva was already barefoot, so that was one obstacle she didn't need to concern herself with. Once she had Ziva naked, she led her over to the steaming bath and encouraged her to get in. Catherine continued to hold Ziva's hand as she slowly lowered herself into the hot water.

Once Ziva was settled, Catherine lowered the lights and spoke to her. "Just relax, baby. Breathe in the lovely scents and enjoy the heat on your body. I'll be back in just a moment."

Five minutes later, Catherine reentered the bathroom, wearing just a cream colored silk robe. She knelt down beside the tub, leaned over and gently kissed Ziva. "How does it feel, baby?"

"Mmmm..." Ziva sighed, reaching up to her. "Join me, Catherine." she whispered in a husky voice.

Catherine smiled and shook her head, "No, my love. This is all for you, so enjoy."

Reaching over Ziva's body, she picked up a soft cloth, wetting it from the tub. She poured liquid soap, in the same fragrance as the bath water, onto the cloth. Slowly and with great care, she began to wash Ziva's shoulders and down her arms. Leaning the brunette forward, she ran the soapy cloth over her back. One by one, she washed each shapely leg, beginning at the ankles and moving with agonizing slowness up to her thighs. Ziva tried, and failed, to hold in a low moan, making Catherine grin. After she had spent a considerable amount of time on her legs, Catherine moved the cloth up to wash Ziva's belly and then chest, spending equal amounts of time as she washed each breast, lovingly.

Ziva moaned again, feeling the heat of desire beginning to burn in her lower belly and quickly moving south. Her hips rose up by their own accord, seeking more contact. Her nipples hardened and rose from her breasts in obvious arousal. None of these signs were lost on Catherine, and she smiled with every reaction from the brunette's body.

The water had begun to cool slightly, so she finished rinsing off Ziva's body and beckoned her to stand. She took a large, fluffy towel from the rack and held it for Ziva, hesitating a moment to enjoy the view of water sluicing off of tan, toned skin.

Ziva stepped out of the tub and Catherine wrapped the warm towel around her. Once she was enclosed in the soft material, Catherine held her close to her, whispering in her ear, "Do you have any idea just how beautiful you are?" Such compliments were common to Ziva, but for some reason, she was pleased by it coming from Catherine, and lowered her head, blushing.

Catherine led her from the bathroom and into the bedroom. When she opened the door, Ziva was amazed to see dozens of candles burning around the room, the lights turned very low. In the background, soft music played. Ziva was strangely touched by the care and trouble that had gone into setting the right mood.

Moving Ziva to the bed, she told her to lay on her stomach. Once she was in position, she felt warm, slippery liquid being poured onto her back. She sighed deeply as she realized Catherine was massaging jasmine scented oil into her skin. As her strong hands worked the oil into Ziva's skin, Catherine hummed along with the music. The feeling was so good that Ziva had actually started to doze. She felt relaxed and calm for the first time in almost a month. When she was just moments from sleep, Catherine leaned in close and again whispered into her ear.

"Turn over for me, baby."

Groaning in disappointment at the loss of contact on her skin, Ziva rolled onto her back, eyes still closed. She moaned as she felt Catherine's hands begin to apply oil to her legs, working her way slowly and torturously up her body.

Once Catherine had fully rubbed in oil on Ziva's entire body, she straddled Ziva's hips. Ziva opened her eyes and looked up at her. The sensuous massage had done its job, and Ziva was aroused to a degree she had never experienced before. Seeing the beautiful older woman astride her was almost more than she could take. Catherine leaned forward slowly, blue eyes holding onto chocolate brown ones. She softly kissed Ziva, lightly brushing her tongue over her lips. Ziva shuddered at the touch and whimpered her need. She reached up, intending to pull the sash that held Catherine's robe closed. Catherine held her hands, pressing them tightly to her stomach, and shook her head. "Not yet."

Ziva whimpered again, "Catherine...please. I want to touch you, to feel your skin."

Catherine sat back up and began to run her hands from Ziva's shoulders to her belly, long sensuous strokes that inflamed the brunette even more. After a few strokes up and down her torso, Catherine straightened and while looking directly into Ziva's eyes, reached for the sash on her robe. With agonizing slowness, she pulled the material, loosening the knot a millimeter at a time, until the silky robe fell open, exposing her body to Ziva's eyes.

Ziva gasped at the erotic manner in which Catherine moved, and involuntarily bucked her hips against her. Catherine lifted her shoulders and hollowed her back, allowing the robe to slide silently from her body.

She discarded the robe, and rolled forward slowly up, then stretched herself fully until she was lying prone atop Ziva. Ziva made a mewling sound and brought her arms up to embrace her.

Catherine felt the muscles in Ziva's body tense as she prepared to roll over and capture the redhead under her. Using her knee, she parted Ziva's legs and quickly inserted two fingers into the younger woman's center. The sudden, unexpected invasion caused Ziva to cry out and grab Catherine tighter.

"Oh God, Catherine!" Ziva wailed.

Catherine kissed Ziva passionately while she slowly twisted her fingers inside of the brunette. When Ziva gasped at the feeling, Catherine thrust her tongue into Ziva's mouth. She began to move her fingers slowly in and out, mimicking the motions with her tongue. The slow motions were torture and Ziva was unable to keep her body still. She began to erratically thrust her hips, trying to simultaneously push Catherine farther in and speed her movements up.

Catherine broke the kiss and moved to Ziva's throat. She kissed her way down the long tan neck until she reached the wildly pulsating vein; latching onto that spot, she first lightly bit, then vigorously sucked.

Ziva's body arched into the feeling as she loudly called out Catherine's name. She began to wildly thrust and push against the redhead's fingers and hand. Catherine picked up her rhythm to match Ziva's movements, plunging her fingers in and out as Ziva cried out in Hebrew. Even though she had no idea what Ziva was saying, she completely understood her. She felt Ziva's inner muscles begin to tighten around her fingers.

She pressed her thumb against Ziva's clit, allowing the motion of her thrusts to create the friction the younger woman craved.

Ziva clutched Catherine's back, frantically scratching and groping for purchase. She bucked wildly under her lover and her hips rose off the bed.

"Catherine!" she shouted as the first wave took her. She lost all sense of where she was as her body began to climax.

Catherine didn't let up on her movements, and as the first orgasm rolled over Ziva, the second was right behind it. Catherine captured Ziva's mouth in a searing kiss, thrusting unrelentingly hard and fast into her body.

Ziva wasn't sure if she could take any more of this stimulation as she lashed about, out of control.

Catherine released her lips, and slowed her movements just enough to twist her fingers within Ziva. Just as Ziva released the breath she was unconsciously holding, her body preparing to come down from the last orgasm, Catherine thrust into her hard while flicking her thumb quickly across her swollen clit.

Ziva's eyes widened, then rolled back into her head. Her body bowed to an almost impossible degree as the third and most powerful orgasm hit her. Every muscle in her body went rigid. The veins in her throat and forehead bulged out with the effort. Her screams were deafening as she roared Catherine's name. Finally, her body no longer able to maintain its stiff posture, she collapsed back onto the mattress, heaving and sweating, uncontrolled tears running down her face.

Catherine had somehow managed to hold on during Ziva's violent climax, and after slowly removing her fingers and then her hand, she stretched once again prone on top of the gasping brunette.

She lay there, covering Ziva's body with her own, feeling the younger woman's rapidly beating heart against her own breasts. When she saw the tears, she slowly and gently licked them away, causing Ziva to shiver.

Catherine rolled off, pulling Ziva into her arms as she did so. She held the shaking, crying woman tightly and whispered to her softly.

"Can a monster feel that way, Ziva? That, my darling, is comfort. Can't you feel it running through your blood. That warm feeling that over whelms you? "

Ziva nodded, unable to speak or control the emotions that were running rampant through her.

Catherine kissed her softly, "Do you know what that is, baby? Those tears? It's all the fear and loneliness you stored inside of you for so many years, believing that you were unlovable."

Ziva finally turned her head and gazed into Catherine's eyes. All the pain and vulnerability were laid raw.

Catherine smiled at her, and kissed her again. "Ah, there is the real Ziva. Oh, she's so beautiful."

Reaching out to stroke her tan skin, Catherine softly said, " I love you, Ziva. Here, with me, you don't have to be the strong warrior. You can be yourself. You can allow yourself to feel."

Ziva kissed her with a desperate passion and looked into her eyes with something akin to awe. "Why do you show me such kindness, Catherine? I do not deserve that from you, after all I've done."

Catherine just smiled, "Because I'm your friend. And because I love you for who you are. Close your eyes, my love, and sleep. I'll be right here if you need me. I promise."

Ziva allowed her eyes to draw closed as she smiled at her lover.


Catherine awoke the next morning and was surprised to find the young Israeli still lying in her arms. She tightened her arm around her shoulders, and Ziva made a contented sigh, snuggling closer and burying her face into Catherine's neck.

Catherine really didn't want to wake her, knowing that sleep was a luxury that Ziva hadn't enjoyed in some time. She was content to just lie there a little longer and hold her. She placed a light kiss on the top of Ziva's head, and prepared to go back to sleep.

"Mmmm," Ziva sighed, kissing Catherine's neck. "Good morning, Catherine."

"Well, good morning to you too!" Catherine replied with a smile. "I thought you were still asleep"

Ziva lifted up on her elbow and kissed Catherine. "No, just enjoying the aftermath of my comfort lesson. I have nowhere to be, so why get up early if I can lie here in the arms of a beautiful woman?"

Catherine laughed, "Never let it be said you don't excel in charm."

Ziva laughed and after stealing another quick kiss, jumped out of the bed. "Need a shower, then food." As she reached the door of the bedroom, she turned back to Catherine, smiling at the look the redhead was giving her. "May I take you out to breakfast, Catherine? Or must you work today?"

Catherine was engrossed with watching the slim naked body as it moved from the bed to the door. She couldn't help but appreciate the effect that sexy, young body had on her.

"No work today. I could think of something much better to eat than breakfast," Catherine teased, practically leering at the brunette.

"Oh, I just bet you can!" Ziva laughed. "But right now, I wish for eggs, corn beef smash, pancakes and lots of coffee! So get your lazy butt out of that bed!"

"Oh, aren't we the feisty one this morning? You really don't think I'm gonna take that lying down, do you?" Laughed Catherine, as she hopped out of the bed and chased Ziva to the bathroom.

"Oh and it's hash!"

"Whatever!" Ziva squealed as she raced down the hall.


Chapter 7

"How in the world does someone as small as you pack away that much food?" Catherine asked, amazed, as she watched Ziva finish her huge breakfast.

"I need to replenish my energy," Ziva pouted. "It's all your fault, you know."

Catherine laughed loudly. "Oh, is that so?'

"Yes, it is so," Ziva declared.

Ziva stared out the diner's window for a moment, then turned to Catherine, her face suddenly serious.

"Do you still wish me to talk? I do not have to. I would hate to ruin this day."

"Of course I do," Catherine said surprised. "I said I was here to listen, so whenever you're ready, so am I."

Ziva glanced around, feeling slightly exposed in such a public place. "Is there somewhere we could go, a park perhaps?"

"I know just the place. C'mon."

Catherine drove them to a small park that sat practically in the middle of town, but had an atmosphere of being isolated.

They headed to a deserted bench and sat. "Not many people around here during the day. Vegas is a night town." Catherine explained.

"It is beautiful," Ziva whispered.

"So, " Ziva began. "I will try to explain. As I explained, Ari and I had the same training, similar upbringing. We had different mothers, but the same father. Many would think a father would be...gentler on a daughter than a son, but that was not my father's style.

Papa's idea of fun was to take us all to into the forest blindfolded, and leave us to find our way back. It built survival skills. I knew my father loved me, still loves me I suppose. But he could so easily hurt me. It was never the big things. He would brag about me, yet never did he come to any of my childhood dance recitals. I would always squint to see out into the audience, but never did he show. He never understood why that hurt so much, and I could never explain it to him. It is normal for fathers to have little nicknames for their children, is it not? When papa would talk to anyone about me, he would call me the 'sharp end of the spear'. Touching, no?

He is always telling me how he worries, so his solution is to put me under surveillance. When I visit or I am summoned, he does not share photos from his last vacation, but photos of who has come and gone from my apartment. "

"What about your mother?" Catherine asked.

Ziva laughed. "My mother was always encouraging me to be more of a lady. She would buy me dolls and tell me to go play. I would usually end up playing with my G.I. Joes, instead, sending them into battle to rescue the damsel. She tried to have me play 'girl' games but I enjoyed the games played by the boys much more. Perhaps she believed that if I were more feminine, I would not want to stay in the military past Tzahal, the two year compulsory for all Israeli women.

Regardless of these things, I had a purpose. I knew what I wanted to accomplish while I still had the time. I knew discarding my emotions would alienate me from everyone I had ever known, and everyone I would ever meet. But I had one clear purpose, a singular goal - to do anything and everything to stop terrorist and criminals.

Evil exists, Catherine, and is as real as this bench we are sitting on. It is the greatest of imposters, so we cannot always recognize it when we see it. Evil can be found everywhere: knocking at your door, delivering your mail, packing your groceries, preaching at your church or eating at your table. We can all see its true face if we just opened our eyes, but we choose to keep them closed. Not seeing is safer than seeing and having to do something about it. You know what I say is true, yes?"

Catherine sighed and shook her head. "Yes, I do know. I've seen the face of evil in the most innocent of faces."

"Yes, I knew you could see," Ziva continued. "But even with all you have seen, you have not seen it all. Fresh faced young women, cradling babies in their arms, hiding explosives within the swaddling clothes. Young men, not old enough to shave, martyring themselves for rivers of honey and fourteen virgins, blowing up school children. Fathers, brothers, uncles, raping their girl children. Men of God stealing the innocence of the young. The quiet polite young man, who by day helps the old ladies with chores, at night murders and mutilates young women. This is the evil you see every day, the evil you can recognize. But what of the leaders who live in opulence, while those who serve them starve in the streets? Organizations who take money from those concerned for the welfare of the children, of the world, but do not buy rice and grain. No, they buy cars and mansions and build temples of gold instead. Justifying it to themselves, and to those who continue to give what little they have, thinking they are helping those less fortunate. This is also the face of evil. The lion wearing the skin of the lamb."

Catherine reached out and placed her hand on Ziva's arm, "What made you believe you could change anything? We hunt them down and catch them, and the next day there are ten more to take their place. I know some days, I feel that I'm not really doing anything, just clearing the garbage, to make room for more. "

Ziva stared off into the distance, lost in her own mind, for a few moments before responding. "I know I cannot stop them all. I could spend the rest of my life hunting and killing them, and would never get them all. But I must do something! To do nothing would be much, much worse. If it meant I had to sacrifice living a normal life so someone may live, well then so be it. How could I have fun, feel love, have children or just enjoy life, while they still existed? My sister deserved a life full of love, laughter and many, many children. Instead she was obliterated! How could I, a woman who does not trust, does not empathize with anyone, have the life that should have belonged to that sweet, pure soul?"

Ziva angrily wiped away the tears that had begun to roll down her cheeks. "I know this is difficult for you to understand, Catherine. I only barely understand it myself. I have a favorite quote by Edmund Burke, that says what I cannot. 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Catherine leaned over and pulled Ziva into her arms, hugging the younger woman tightly. "Oh, Ziva. Don't you realize that all of this is based on emotions? On love? If you really didn't care about anything or anyone, you would never have adopted this purpose!"

Ziva said nothing in response; she just looked off in the distance, watching her ghosts dance around her.

"I never doubted my beliefs. Not once did I doubt my purpose or think what I was doing was wrong. I never doubted Mossad or my father. I knew I would not live a long life in this job, and was prepared for that. Now...now, I have nothing but doubts. I still believe in my ideals, but perhaps what I have been taught is not the best method. Perhaps papa...does not have my best interest at heart. Or my country's. I want so to believe that Ari had lied, but my heart knows he did not. And I fear that someday I will pay dearly for my doubts. That is why I shun love, attachments. They would be nothing but targets. And how would I know, the one who professes love for me, is not the assassin sent to do me harm?"

While they had been talking, neither noticed that the sky had begun to darken. Ziva glanced up, surprised at the sudden chill that was in the air.

"It looks like it is going to rain. I did not know that it rained in Las Vegas."

"Not often, and not for long. But when it does, it really comes down," Catherine said, looking up. "Looks like that's what's about to happen. We should head back to the car or we'll get soaked."

Catherine stood and turned to walk back, but Ziva hesitated.

"Catherine?" The older woman stopped and looked back as Ziva asked, "Ummm...there is something I have always wanted to do. Would you mind if I asked you to do it with me?"

Catherine raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Like what?"

"I have always wanted to walk in the rain with someone I thought special to me. I had seen movies where lovers always walk in the rain. I would like to have that experience. I do not think the dancing part is required, yes?"

Catherine was momentarily stunned by what Ziva had just said. Not by the request, so much, but by the "someone special to me" remark. Shaking herself, she smiled at the young Israeli, and stepped back to her. She put her arms around Ziva's waist and pulled her close, kissing her tenderly on the lips.

"I would love to walk in the rain with you, Ziva. And no, dancing is not required, but if the need overwhelms you, have at it!"

Ziva returned the embrace with a soft laugh, as fat raindrops began to fall. Within moments, the sky had opened up and rain was teeming down.

Ziva threw back her head and laughed in pleasure. She grabbed Catherine's hand, and the two of them began to walk down the street, drawing strange looks from people running past them, seeking shelter.

Catherine giggled at the child-like look of wonder on Ziva's face, as they walked. In less than a block, both women were soaked to the skin, hair hanging in wet strands, framing their faces.

"This is wonderful, Catherine!" Ziva shouted excitedly. "I understand now why it is in so many of your movies. I can almost understand the dancing!"

Ziva looked at Catherine, and thought the woman looked incredibly sexy soaking wet. As they came to the wall surrounding the pond at the Bellagio, Ziva grabbed Catherine and pushed her against the concrete.

"You are beautiful, Catherine! Do you know that? Wet is certainly a good look for you," exclaimed Ziva, as she pressed her lips firmly against Catherine's mouth, laughing into the kiss.

Not caring for a moment, that they were in the middle of the busy Vegas strip, Catherine wrapped her arms around Ziva, and returned the kiss with enthusiasm.

They stood like that, wrapped in each other's arms, kissing like young lovers, oblivious to the falling rain or anything around them. The small breaks in each kiss were filled with smiles and giggles, as each woman looked into the other's eyes. Catherine was first to notice that the rain had stopped, but she wasn't really ready to let Ziva go just yet. Eventually, Ziva became aware of the storm's passing and pulled back slightly from her. She smiled widely and unabashedly at Catherine.

"Hahaha! I never even thought to add 'kissing in the rain' to my wish. That is a slight I will not make again. Walking in the rain was enjoyable, but kissing in the rain...fantastic! Much better than dancing," Ziva beamed. "I can now cross that off my pail list."

"Bucket list, babe."

"Yes? Are you sure?" Catherine nodded and smiled. "Well, no matter. Pail, bucket...same difference."

Catherine laughed and linked her arm with Ziva's. "C'mon, darling. Let's head back and get out of these wet clothes."

"Why, Catherine! Are you propositioning me?"

"Could be, Ziva." Catherine grinned with a wink. "I just could be."


Chapter 8

On the ride back to Catherine's house, Ziva seemed to sink back into herself. Catherine was concerned with the change, even though she had expected it. Ziva's burst of enthusiasm and unrestrained happiness was simply a shift of her mask. There was no way she would let it stay so exposed for long.

"Penny for your thoughts."

"So much? I am not sure I could make change," Ziva quipped. "I was thinking how I have become two different people. How is it possible for one moment, I believe the value of emotions, such as joy, and the next I am laughing and kissing in the rain. There is no symmetry with these two personalities, yet is the perfect paradigm to describe my dilemma. What would...could, my life have been, if I had not been Mossad? Would I have found love by now? Would I have at least dared to look? Would I have been...happy?

I never had these specific questions before. Not until I came to NCIS. I originally believed them to be sentimental fools, letting emotions distract them from their purpose. They way they...care, was...disturbing. The only objective they should have is to apprehend the suspect, yet they would waste valuable time, consoling the victim's families. Do not misunderstand, what has happened to them is horrific, but it is secondary to removing the threat. Gibbs, always telling me to think first, react second; expecting me to interrogate without torture. If you want the truth, force will get it, not coddling! It is...was, so frustrating!"

Parking the car in the driveway, Catherine touched Ziva's arm, "I can only imagine, hon. How about we get a glass of wine and sit out back and finish?"

Ziva nodded as they went in. "A glass of wine would be wonderful. And since my clothes are already dry, no reason to wait."

Catherine went into the kitchen to get the wine while Ziva headed out back. She pulled together a lounge chair and a straight backed chair. She knew that Catherine enjoyed sitting in the lounge chair while out here. Catherine came out, handing the brunette a glass of wine, and sank with a sigh into the lounge chair.

Ziva didn't start her tale right away; she took a sip of the excellent wine and allowed herself the luxury of drinking in the site of the woman next to her. Catherine could feel Ziva's eyes, as they roamed over her body, lingering on the long, shapely legs. She shivered as if physically touched. Ziva had thought the shorts impractical that morning but was glad Catherine had ignored her.

"I have seen you wear many different things," Ziva says quietly to Catherine. "From leather, to elegant silk dresses and simple cotton shorts, but what I have never seen, is you not look delectable." Leaning down to kiss her, she whispered, "I do not know how the women you work with manage to avoid grabbing you every time they see you."

"Oh, they manage somehow," Catherine retorted with a laugh.

"Hmmm. Then they are all either blind or insane. No other explanation," ZIva shrugged. "That is a mistake I do not intend to make."

Catherine blushed, surprised as always at how this woman managed to make her feel so young and desirable.

"You're trying to distract me, Ziva," laughed Catherine. "And it's working. But I really want you to continue."

"Yes, you are right. Time is growing short." Ziva sighed. "I told you already about my original welcome to NCIS, yes? And as I said, it was understandable. Over time, they had begun to soften towards me, to see me as a member of their team, instead of an interloper. I was appreciative of that, trusting your team is crucial to a successful mission.

There were still moments where our differences were obvious. How I wished to interrogate was just one of those differences. The biggest was probably how I dealt with each of them as individuals. I valued them as agents, but saw no reason to become too close to them. I did not want to hear about their weekends, or dates. It was irrelevant, but they would persist in telling me everything. I did not see any value in worrying about someone who had been hurt, if they were no longer in danger. They were safe, being cared for; why worry now? Inside, I may have been concerned, but never did I show it. Abbey even said to me that I was heartless. And to my surprise, the comment hurt. Hurt deeply. But to defend myself, would have meant showing my true self. So, I allowed the impression to remain.

The only one who understood was Gibbs. He, too, had his secrets and his walls. The shooting of my half-brother? He took full blame for it. Never did he tell that I was the shooter, not him. He knew, without being told, that the repercussions for me would have been...extreme. He is such a gruff, mean, old man, yet he cares so deeply for his team. More like they are his children then his subordinates. And I had become his daughter. I have studied his every move, his every motive. He is not a innocent man, by any means. But all he has done has been for the triumph over evil.

All of these feelings were similar to treason in my mind. How can I embrace their methods when it is in direct conflict to my training? How could I allow this man, to become like a second father to me, when he was the opposite of my real father? I began to feel shame in my lack of empathy. Never had this happened to me before! If you had asked me to name ten people I have killed over the years, I would have been hard-pressed to do so. Their names...their names did not matter. Why I was ordered to remove them did not matter. If Mossad ordered them removed, then it was done. They would not have done so, if they were not a threat to Israel, you understand? I can name every man or woman that I have had to kill since coming to NCIS. I can tell you how and why their deaths came about. I can name every soul that was lost because I was not fast enough to save them.

They do not all haunt me. No, if they did, I would have gone insane long ago. But there are some, just a few, mind you, that make me wonder if my judgment had been correct. Not whether I should have killed them, but if there could have been another way. How many times did I react before I thought? How many times did I hesitate, or force them into the action that resulted in my need to use extreme force?

Hoffman. How could I have done things differently? Why did I not anticipate him looking at my cell phone, and remove Gibbs' name? Why did I not conceal a weapon in my car or on my person? I have worn skimpy cocktail dresses and managed to conceal my service weapon. I could have crashed the car, stalled the engine, anything to give Gibbs and McGee time to close the gap between our cars. Could I have done something, anything, to have prevented him almost killing me? Or me killing him? How could I make such a stupid rookie mistake?

I could have died that day. Why should that bother me? I have been prepared for such a day all my life. It is not that I wish to die; I just do not fear it. I really don't know. He should not have gotten such a drop on me! I should not have taken so long...was I that distracted? Would it have happened if I was still pure Mossad? I just don't know!"

Catherine reached over and took Ziva's hand into hers. "Baby, hindsight is always 20/20! It's one of the few clichés that are very true. There is no point in torturing yourself with 'what ifs'. You are so good at keeping all of your emotions locked down tightly. You just can't accept the fact that you made a mistake. It happens to everyone at some point. You can't go back and redo it; you can't change anything that has already happened. You can only learn from it so it doesn't happen again."

"Yes, I realize that." Ziva nodded. "I first thought my lack of judgment was the issue, but I realize now, that is not entirely the case. It is the fact that I wonder if I could have done something to avoid having to take this monster's life. This would never had been a thought before NCIS. Working with them, living in this country has changed me. I don't know if I can handle that change. What if I am sent back to Israel? Back to my Mossad assignments? I am not sure I would survive the first job!"

"You're only human, ZIva," Catherine quietly told her. "I know you were trained to have no flaws, no cracks, to never make a mistake. Nothing short of perfection would be acceptable. So you think the mistake you made is unforgivable. I think that is what is really haunting you. You're so sure that you let everyone down, especially Gibbs. I think you have strong feelings for him, father-type feelings. He has given you all the trust, respect, encouragement and protection that your real father never bothered to, and you let him down. And the fact that you felt if your father knew of this he would be disappointed in you. You pretend that doesn't matter, but it does. So many people counting on you to always be the perfect Mossad agent, and you think you just threw that trust away. Well you didn't, Ziva. Only you and perhaps your father expect perfection from you. Your friends are only concerned with the fact that you are safe and alive."

Lowering her head, Ziva softly said, "I have considered leaving Mossad."

Catherine looked over, shocked. "Are you serious? But...I thought...Isn't Mossad really deep into you? Can you just walk away from it? Hell, will they let you?"

"I do not know," Ziva shrugged, looking down sadly. "I am seriously considering it, yes. Can I actually do it? I have no idea. Mossad is who I am, what I am and what I believe. I do not know if I can ever just walk away from that. And my father will be furious! There are no words for what his reaction will be. He already has told me that I am allowing NCIS, America and Gibbs to brainwash me. If I do leave, I know I can never go home again. I love Israel. That is why I joined in the first place, to protect my land and my people! I still believe in these things. I do not doubt my convictions, just the methods.

If I had to tell you who I trusted more, Mossad or NCIS, that might be difficult. Every government agency lies. It's just how it is. They all are invested in manipulating your emotions, your loyalties, to get what they need from you. That is a simple fact. Same question, but Papa or Gibbs? Not quite as difficult, it pains me to admit. If I had been asked this last year, the answer would have been obvious. But after all I have learned, all Ari said, I do not feel I can trust my papa any longer. I cannot tell you what pain this brings me, but I must face the truth. Gibbs has never lied to me that I am aware of. When others doubted me, he stood beside me. He has never asked me to do anything that I was not comfortable doing, or that would be against my beliefs. I am beginning to think Gibbs has been more of a father to me then my own ever has. And the team has become my family, my brothers and sisters. I would easily die to protect any one of them.

I think this is where my fear is coming from. My nightmares. Having to look into my father's eyes and see the disappointment there. My gut, as Gibbs would say, tells me I am right. But can I truly trust my judgment? If I could make the wrong choice with Hoffman and almost lose my life, who's to say this is just not an extension of bad judgment? This is my dilemma, Catherine."

Catherine sat there looking at Ziva for a long moment. She sat up and swung her legs around, so she was facing the brunette.

"Ziva, I know this has got to be an agonizing decision for you to make. You're talking more than just a change in jobs, you talking a major change in your life. But sweetie, I think you need to look past the obvious changes here."

Catherine reached forward and taking Ziva's hands brought them up to her lips for a soft kiss. "You are so unhappy right now. It's so plain to see that you regret the things you wouldn't allow yourself to feel. Sharing some simple joy with your team...your friends, because you thought it would make you seem weak. It's hard to walk around always being the strong one, the untouchable one. You don't have to tell me but I know that when you're alone, and it's just you and the walls, you feel lost and vulnerable. You're so afraid to let anyone close to you, because you're afraid they will hurt you, or someone will hurt them. Baby that’s no way to live! If I could peek into your life for just one moment, when the weapons have been put away, and there is no one to judge, all that is left is a scared, lonely woman."

Ziva couldn't look at Catherine, afraid she will see the truth in her words as well as the tears in her eyes.

Catherine placed her hand under Ziva's chin and lifted her head, making her look into her eyes. "That is what you need to weigh in order to make your decision. Do you want to continue this life that is so utterly bare and cold? Or do you want to take a chance on allowing yourself to feel, to live? You may get hurt, sweetie. But that's part of life. We take what we can from it and learn. It's scary, but even with all of your shut-off feelings, you've still been hurt. At least if you open up and allow someone in, you'll have someone to hold you until the pain passes."

Heaving a deep, tortured sigh, Ziva whispered, "I do not know how to feel these things, Catherine."

"Nonsense!" Catherine retorted. "You've felt many of them just on the short time you've been here. You're always saying you can't feel normal emotions, but that's just bullshit, and you know it! You feel them; you feel them all! You're just afraid to show them. You've hid them all in the dark for so long, you can't recognize them in the light. Why did you call me, Ziva? Why ask for help? That's not the Mossad way, yet you did it. You recognized that you could no longer do this all by yourself. For the first time, you looked in the mirror and saw the true reflection of what is happening to you. Even knowing that you had kept everyone so far away that the only person you could call is someone you haven't spoken to for years! Your soul was crying out, and for once you didn't ignore the sound."

Catherine ran her fingers along Ziva's jaw, lifting her head up again. "Don't get me wrong, baby. I'm glad you called me. Hell, I'm honored you thought of me. But don't you see what you did there? That simple act, even if out of desperation, was an act of trust. You trusted that I would keep my word. I said anytime, anywhere, I would be here for you. But that was a promise made five years ago! After you broke all contact with me, you still believed I would not turn you away."

"When you and I were at the club, you felt jealousy when that girl kissed me. Why? I'm not yours, you're not mine, and you never were. What we had back then was just a memory; something I pull out when I'm feeling lonely or especially old and unattractive. I remember when an exotic young woman desired me for a little while, and it helps me weather those moments. Later you experienced desire, and you gave to me unselfishly, refusing any pleasure for yourself. Even in your troubled state, you were tender to me, making sure I was satisfied. You didn't have to do that. I didn't expect it and would not have asked for it. You cared, if you know it or not, you cared about me. Don't you see that these are emotions?"

"It was sex, Catherine." Ziva stubbornly said. "Just sex. A release, nothing more." Laughing bitterly, she continued. "If there is one thing I am good at, it is pleasuring a woman, making her feel special. Be it for fun or...out of gratitude."

"Gratitude?" Catherine said softly, the hurt evident in her voice.

Ziva winces as her word is repeated back to her. "Catherine...I..."

"No, don't. Okay?" Catherine paused, struggling to not take the words personally. "You're doing what you always have done. Using your defenses to hide the fact that you may have been exhibiting a human emotion. Well, you know what? I'm not going to let you get away with it. You want more examples? Okay . Last night I asked you to trust me. I offered you comfort, and you gave up all of your defenses and accepted it. You can claim that was just sex too, but we both know better. The act was sex, yeah. But the emotions behind it was comfort and trust! And today? Oh, today was a fucking breakthrough of mammoth proportions!" Catherine exclaimed.

"We took trust: trust that I wouldn't laugh at you, or think you foolish and added joy! You were like a child. So filled with happiness and joy at the simple act of walking in the rain with someone special to you; your words, and who cared for you! What are you going to claim that was, Ziva? An experiment? You wanted to see if your clothes were 'wash and wear'?" Her tone changing to one more tender, Catherine continued. "I've never seen you so happy, Ziva. The smile on your face as we walked was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. You were happy, for just that one moment, you felt joy, freedom and even love. You loved the feelings you were having. You weren't afraid, or guarded. You were just Ziva. And God, it was an amazing sight to see!"

Catherine pulled Ziva from her chair to sit next to her. "All of these things that you think you must deny yourself? You can feel them, Ziva. You just have to let yourself feel them. It's not gonna happen overnight, and it won't be easy. But the more you find yourself, the more you let your friends help you, the better it will be. It's already in there; you just have to trust yourself to let it out."

Ziva looked into Catherine's eyes, searching for the punch line, if one was coming. All she saw was concern and something else she couldn't quite identify.

"Catherine, I am sorry for hurting you. I know my words hurt, and it was unkind of me. You were right, it is a defensive measure. You said something though that I wonder about. You mentioned that it has been five years since I saw you last. I know I hurt you then, yet you did not hesitate. All the other things you have done for me since I have been here...why Catherine? You owed me nothing. Not even friendship. So why have you done these things for me?"

Catherine smiled, touching Ziva's cheek, "Simply because I love you. I have from that first night, and never really stopped."

Ziva blinked. "Love me?"

Catherine laughed at Ziva's expression, "Don't freak out hon. Not, 'I want to marry you' love. Not really. I did fall a little in love with you back then, but who can blame me? I was in love with the gift you gave me that week. I was feeling so bad about myself, about Sara, everything. I was feeling so...useless and unwanted. Then here you came, making me feel more beautiful and desired then I had ever felt in my life! You gave me the courage to go after Sara. If not for that week with you, I wouldn't have even had the time with her I did. Part of me likes to think that you could fall in love with me, but there is just too much road between us. But I do love you. I love who you were, who you are and who you can be. Simple as that, hon."

The sky had begun to darken again, and Ziva knew that there really wasn't much more left to say. She didn't know if or how she could express how much Catherine had helped her. Perhaps even saved her.

"Catherine. I do not want this to sound like I am saying it just because I feel I should. But that week with you...I too had begun to fall in love. You were like some kind of answer to my yearnings, but I could not tell you that. Not then. I convinced myself that I was being a silly child, falling in love with an older woman, who had freely given me something no one else had even tried to give. I was afraid of you. Afraid for you. That is why I stopped speaking to you. It was easier. Not better, just easier. I am so regretful for that decision." Ziva leaned forward and kissed Catherine softly.

Briefly pressing her forehead against Catherine's, Ziva looked into her eyes, "A mistake I plan to never make again, my love. You have given me such a precious gift, Catherine. Knowledge that I can trust someone and be trusted in return. I will never forget that."

The first raindrop fell, landing on Catherine's forehead, startling her and making her giggle.

"You know, Catherine," Ziva teased, "There is something else I always wanted to do in the rain."

Before Catherine could ask what that was, Ziva pulled her into a heated, passionate kiss as the rain began to pelt down.

Catherine gasped in surprise when Ziva's hands began to roam over her. The rain was coming down harder and both were soaked within seconds.

Ziva leaned back for just a moment, taking in the sight of Catherine's wet shirt clinging to her body. In one swift moment, she pulled the shirt over Catherine's head, exposing her to her delighted eyes. Catherine's eyes darken with arousal and she grabbed Ziva's shirt and tugged hard, popping buttons off before pulling it roughly from Ziva's body.

Ziva moaned and pushed her back onto the lounge chair, kissing her neck, then chest with the desperation that only comes from lust. She moved back to Catherine's lips, kissing her forcefully while her hands frantically fumbled at her shorts, unbuttoning and unzipping them. Catherine dug her fingers into Ziva's back as her body responded to the sudden assault.

Feeling like a dozen hands were touching and groping all at once, they both struggled to disrobe the other. Finally, they were free of the constraints of clothing, mouths kissing and biting exposed flesh, steam rising off of their overheated bodies as they ground into each other.

Ziva paused to look down at Catherine, over whelmed by her need for this woman. She slowed her assault, licking and sucking rain drops off her fevered skin. Catherine pulled herself forward, so she could lick the rain off of Ziva's shoulders before sinking her teeth into the soft flesh. Ziva cried out at the erotic sensation, which caused her to thrust her fingers deep into Catherine's center.

Catherine bent forward, moaning from the feeling of fullness, grappling at Ziva's back, clawing her, trying to hold on.

Ziva began to thrust quickly and powerfully into the redhead's center, intent on bringing her to climax before the rain ends.

Catherine twisted slightly and dropped her own hand down between them and slipped her fingers into Ziva's wet folds. As Ziva breathed in sharply at the unexpected touch, Catherine slid her fingers into her core.

As Ziva continued her frenzied thrusts, Catherine matched her thrust for thrust. Both woman moaned and bucked their hips uncontrollably. Ziva could feel Catherine's inner walls begin to tighten down on her fingers, and pushed her hips down onto Catherine's fingers, desperate to come with her.

"Now, Catherine!" Ziva yelled, "Please!"

Both women pressed their thumbs against the other's clit, flicking fast, as they thrust in rhythm. Their bodies were slamming against each other, hips bucking out of control, as orgasms hit them simultaneously.

Ziva cried out Catherine's name with a force that carried for blocks, while Catherine called her name over and over. As the last wave hit, Ziva claimed Catherine's mouth in a crushing kiss. Mouths crushed into each other, tongues moved in and out with blinding speed, groaning their individual release into the other.

They collapsed into each other's arms, gasping for breath, water running off of them in rivers. Catherine removed her fingers from Ziva, smiling at the whimper that escaped the brunette. Ziva was slower to move herself out of Catherine. She was intoxicated with the feeling of being inside of this fantastic woman. With a sigh of deep regret, she pulled herself out, again whimpering at the loss of the intimate contact.

The rain began to slow, then stop as they lay there wrapped in each other's arms, tenderly kissing, so lost in the moment they didn't notice the rain had stopped.

"I'm going to have to rewrite my bucket list," Ziva giggled. "I only had 'walk in the rain'. I need to add 'kiss' in the rain and 'make love' in the rain, just so I can have the pleasure of crossing them off."

Catherine playfully slapped Ziva's bare ass, laughing, "And I thought the kissing in the rain was fantastic! Who knew?"

Both women burst into helpless giggles, holding on tightly to one another.

"Come, let us go inside," Ziva said. "Before your neighbors see a side of you I would prefer was for my eyes only. I think we need to continue this in a more comfortable...and dry setting, yes?"

"Continue?" Catherine asked, eyebrow raised.

"Yes, continue." Ziva replied. " I have much more thanks to give you, and I need to practice some of those emotions."

Catherine laughed heartily as Ziva stood and pulled her into the house. Once she got Catherine to the bedroom, they didn't venture out again except by necessity for the remainder of Ziva's stay.


Ziva stood in the elevator as it slowly moved to her floor when her cell phone chirped, alerting her of a text message. Pulling out her cell phone, she smiled when she saw it was from Catherine. She opened the message and read "And she appeared out of the twilight, a vision before my unbelieving eyes. We held each other and danced all night, until she softly pulled away and vanished into the misty darkness. Was it all just a dream? I can't wait to see you again!"

Below this touching poem, was a comment from Catherine. "Ziva, I wanted to tell you what the past week meant to me. I found this online, and it was perfect. I already miss you more than I thought possible. Vegas seems a little colder and dull, now that you're gone. Love, Catherine. P.S. Look in your bag.

The elevator opened and Ziva stepped out into the NCIS bullpen, smiling. Two heads rose to watch her walk to her desk.

"Well, don't we look rested?" Tony quipped. "Nice vacation? Get everything settled, did ya?"

"Wow, Ziva! You look great!" Tim exclaimed.

Ziva smiled brightly at them, "It was quite relaxing and educational. It seems the desert air agrees with me."

Moving to her desk, she put her purse down and looked inside. At first she saw nothing out of the ordinary, but then noticed a white envelope pushed down the side. Pulling it out, she looked at it curiously, wondering for just a moment when Catherine could have placed it there.

She could feel Tony and Tim's eyes on her, "Whatcha got there Ziva? A love letter?" Tony asked, laughing.

Ziva just looked at him, and smiled before turning her back and opening it. She pulled out a brightly colored card, with the logo from an old television show, "Charlie's Angels", with the words, 'Got ya covered!' printed boldly across it. Ziva didn't know the show, but the silhouette of three women with guns amused her. Inside of the card she first read the printed text; "No matter what life throws at us... We can handle it. No problem. Whatever you need, I've got you covered."

On the left side of the card was a handwritten note from Catherine, "Ziva, I know I said it before, and I let this card say it too. But I will always be here for you. I kept my promise this time, and you can trust that I will always keep it!

I hope you're not afraid that I will assume anything about our relationship, because of this past week, but I can't pretend it didn't mean anything to me either. Amazing is too mild a word for you, babe! All I hope for is that you remain my friend. In my dreams, you will always be so much more! I will never forget the way I felt every time you touched me, every time you looked at me with that searing heat in your eyes! Ha-ha, you may have ruined me for any other woman, my love! I'll leave this as an open invitation. Remember, you are welcome to come to me anytime you need comfort, and I will be there for you; my home and my arms are always open to you. If all you require is my friendship; that too is always here waiting for you. Don't let so much time pass again, darling. All my love, Catherine."

Ziva was not surprised to find herself misting up at the honest, open expression of feelings from Catherine. She closed the card, raised it to her lips and whispered, "I'll remember. I'll always remember."

She closed her eyes for a moment, allowing a secret little smile to cross her lips. She opened them just as Gibbs walked swiftly past her desk.

Gibbs just looked at her with a small smile on his face. "You back, Ziva?"

"Yes, sir. I am."

"Good, we got work to do and you're behind!" he said sternly, then shot her a smile.

Ziva smiled back, flipping open her cell phone. "Just have to send a quick message to a friend." Typing quickly into her phone, she sent a short but to the point message. "Thank you Catherine, just for being everything that you are. I will not forget...anything."

Closing the phone with a new confident smile on her face, she turned to Gibbs.

"It is good to see you, Gibbs." Glancing over at her coworkers she said, "It is so good to see you all, my friends!"

Ziva ignored the shocked looks on Tony and Tim's faces, and turned to the monitor mounted on the wall.

" So, what do we have today?"