Disclaimer: "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 Pauley Perrette or Cote de Pablo.
"Be careful," Ari had said. "Be very careful."
"Why?" Ziva asked.
"This woman," he said, "she can make you forget."
"I never forget," she'd scoffed.
And Ari had just smiled at her. "You'll see," he said. "You'll see."
Ziva watches her from across the room. She's sitting with three other women, and they're laughing, daintily boisterous as they accept the drinks men in the bar keep sending over. They swiftly rebuff any man who approaches, though, Ziva observes.
Not really Ari's type, she would have thought, but then, Ari doesn't really have a type, not physically, anyway. He likes smart women, women he has to work to manipulate, women who end up falling for his charms in spite of themselves. This one doesn't look that clever, not to Ziva. Too giggly, too girly, but she's learned to trust Ari's instincts, so she reserves judgement.
When she gets up to go to the ladies' room, Ziva follows, and stands at the mirror, primping her hair, waiting.
"Hi," says Kate, nodding to Ziva as she washes her hands and then starts to touch up her lipstick.
"That's a pretty colour," says Ziva. "What's it called?"
"Oh," says Kate, "Passion. It's my favourite, but it's so hard to get, now. They always discontinue my favourites."
"It looks good on you." Ziva stares at her reflection and frowns. "I can't wear strong colours."
"I bet you could," Kate says. "You should try, lash out a little."
"I don't think so."
"Come on." Kate holds out the tube of lipstick. "Try it."
"I couldn't possibly..." says Ziva, but Kate gestures insistently, so she takes the lipstick, her fingers brushing briefly, excitingly against Kate's.
She clears her throat, pauses for a moment, because this is a job, an errand. She's not here for pleasure, so she applies the colour, not thinking about Kate, not thinking about her mouth, about the strange and overwhelming nature of American women.
"See," says Kate. "It does suit you."
And she's right, oddly enough. Ziva purses her lips, smacks them together. "Thank you," she says, and they smile at each other, and Ziva forces herself to stay composed, forces herself to ignore the close, heated rush that courses through her, like a precisely-timed punch, like a bullet. She turns to leave the bathroom, holding the door open for Kate, like a gentleman.
"So, where are you from?" asks Kate, as they emerge into the dim light of the bar.
"Do you like my accent?" Ziva replies, trying to hit just the right note of non-threatening flirtatiousness.
"It's... unusual." Kate looks away. "It reminds me of someone, actually," she murmurs, almost to herself.
"Ahhhh," says Ziva. "A man?"
"Yes" says Kate, and even in the near darkness, Ziva can see her blush. "A man."
"No. No, just someone I'd rather forget."
Ziva leans closer, lowers her voice conspiratorially. "Men are usually better forgotten, I find."
Kate smiles, easy and open and Ziva can see she's established the necessary level of intimacy. Far too simple.
"Are you here with friends?" asks Kate.
"No." She looks appropriately lost. "I was supposed to be on a date."
"Supposed to be?"
"I would appear to have been stood down."
Kate smirks, clearly trying not to laugh, but it's not mean or ill-natured. "Stood up."
"Up. Of course."
"Look... why don't you join us?"
"I wouldn't want to impose..." Ziva hedges, feeling just a little triumphant inside.
"No, come on." Kate takes her hand and leads her over to the table.
"Everyone, this is..."
"Mina," says Ziva.
"Mina. Mina, this is everyone." She points around the table. "Hayley, Karen, Rebecca." Ziva nods at each in turn. "And I'm Kate," says Kate, her hand resting on her chest.
"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you all," says Ziva, taking a seat.
"Mina," says Kate, "has been stood up by some *man.*" She emphasises the last word like it's an insult, and Ziva takes note.
"Aw!" the other women chorus. "No way!" They press a drink into her grasp, something sweet and sickly (Ziva prefers her drinks bitter), and lean towards her, cooing and consoling, soothing and sympathetic to Ziva's imaginary troubles.
Kate sits back, though, watching. Ziva studies her surreptitiously, stealing glances between laughing and listening, smiling, charming the group, convincing them to let her buy a round of shots. Kate protests, but Ziva purrs, drawling her words, "Come on, Kate. Let loose," and she immediately relents.
They down the shots in unison and Ziva bites her lip as Kate locks eyes with her, wiping the back of her mouth as she slams the glass on the table. Ari was right, she thinks. But then, Ari's always right.
She waits, though, not hurrying things, not pushing, because that's the way it works, that's the way you get what you need. When Kate goes to the bathroom, she follows her. Again.
This time, though, she grabs Kate's wrist, roughly, and pulls her into a stall, locks the door. And smiles, showing her teeth like the predator she is, or pretends to be.
"What... what are you doing?" says Kate. But she doesn't look afraid. Nervous, perhaps, excited, maybe, but not afraid.
"Do you like my accent?" Ziva asks.
Kate is backed up against the wall and Ziva is close enough that her feet are spread, either side of Kate's. And Kate isn't moving. She's just breathing, just staring.
"Do you like my accent?" Ziva leans in, her mouth so very nearly touching the shell of Kate's ear as she speaks, hot words falling from her lips like power, like magic.
She rests her fingers in the waistband of Kate's skirt, her other hand flat against the wall, beside Kate's face.
"Do you like my accent?" spoken against Kate's mouth, and Ziva swears she can feel Kate's pulse, her heartbeat, echoing in her head like there's nothing else in the world as she drags her fingertips along Kate's stomach, reaching up under her shirt. "Do you like..." And the words are cut off as Kate opens her mouth against Ziva's, desperate and messy like something raw, something bruised and new.
Ziva kisses her back, eagerly, pressing closer, threading her hand through Kate's hair.
When Kate pulls away, she's panting, her mouth slack, her lipstick smeared. "Caitlin," Ziva croons, "Caitlin."
And bang, Ziva is thrown back against the opposite wall with enough force to leave her breathless, watching Kate reach for a gun that isn't there. Shit, she thinks. Shit shit shit, but she keeps her game face on.
"Why... how... how do you know that's my name?" Kate says, her voice shaking, her face pale and panicked.
Ziva doesn't say anything, doesn't bother to lie, merely lifts her chin and meets Kate's eyes.
"Oh my god," says Kate. "Oh my god. It's... you're..." She grabs her cellphone, but Ziva is, of course, faster, neatly twisting Kate's wrist, knocking the phone into the bowl of the toilet. For the first time, Kate looks genuinely afraid.
"He misses you, Kate," Ziva says, dangerously, risking a step closer. "He misses you," she says, almost whispering, "but don't worry. He's always with you." She watches the shudder run over Kate like a wave. Ari was right, she thinks.
She smiles, hard-edged and fierce, and turns to unlock the door, quite certain Kate won't stop her but her heart races, piercing harsh beats she can feel echoing through her chest like shrapnel.
In the bar, she blends carefully into the crowd, disappearing smoothly, casually, as if she's in no hurry, no recognisable urgency in her movements. And if inside, it feels like she can't breathe, can't even think, then it doesn't show. Ziva never lets it show, not ever.
But Ari was right.