Title: Damn the Consequences
Author: A. Magiluna Stormwriter
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prompt: Q is for quandary
Written for: femslash07 & alphabetasoup
Date: 7-11 March 2007
Word Count: 3180
Summary: Even if nothing more than friendship ever comes of this, Ziva needs to take this chance.
Spoilers: Direct spoilers for "Dead Man Walking" [ep 4.16] & "Skeletons" [ep 4.17], with vague references to "Once A Hero" [ep 4.08] & "Smoked" [ep 4.10]
Website: ShatterStorm Productions – Frisked & Conquered
Link to: http://f-n-c.shatterstorm.net/
Archive: ShatterStorm Productions only…all others ask for permission & we'll see…
Author’s 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.
Definition Notes: I used the Quandary option from my alphabetasoup table because it really seemed to fit the concepts put across in this story.
n. pl. quan•da•ries
A state of uncertainty or perplexity. See Synonyms at predicament.
n 1: a situation from which extrication is difficult especially an unpleasant or trying one; "finds himself in a most awkward predicament"; "the woeful plight of homeless people" [syn: predicament, plight] 2: state of uncertainty or perplexity especially as requiring a choice between equally unfavorable options [syn: dilemma]
[Info from Dictionary.com]
Ficathon Notes: This was written for molotovcoqtiz, who made the following requests.
You are writing for lj user molotovcoqtiz:
Listed fandoms she requests:
1) CSI - Catherine Willows/Lady Heather
2) X-Men Movieverse - Rogue/Mystique, Kitty/Rogue, Mystique/Jubilee, Mystique/Callisto
3) Harry Potter: Pansy Parkinson/Hermione Granger, Narcissa/Bellatrix, Pansy Parkinson/Narcissa
Wildcard fandoms she requests:
1) X-Men comics: Emma Frost/Tessa Niles (Sage), Jean Grey/Emma Frost, Mystique/Rogue
2) NCIS: Abby Scuito/Ziva David
Author’s Notes: When I got this request, I knew I had two options that I could really work with: Catherine/Lady Heather and Abby/Ziva. I had this great idea for the Cath/Lady Heather pairing, based off the ep "Pirates of the Third Reich," but it never went anywhere. Maybe that'll happen down the line yet…
I pondered both options for many weeks, until I finally saw "Dead Man Walking" and "Skeletons." The whole idea of Ziva letting someone in and then losing him just struck a chord with me, and I had my idea. Particularly after the shoe scene in "Skeletons." I'd hoped for something smutty, but it just didn't pan out in this one. But I've a feeling there will be a sequel, as I'm kind of liking how this relationship has started…
Dedication: My muses, because I'm not as prolific without them…
"Damn the Consequences"
by A. Magiluna Stormwriter
I can't believe she's seriously asked me about that, about Roy Sanders. Does she seriously think she can help me with this? It's nothing. He was someone I recognized from my morning runs, someone who was very interesting to talk to, someone who died far too soon for his own good. It was, and is, nothing more than that. Yes, I cared for him, as anyone would another human being. Nothing more to it than that.
I mean, what right does she have to ask me about something in my personal life? I don't go prying into her personal life, do I? I haven't asked her about the reasons she's been acting so strangely of late. Oh, I know it's related to a man, a relationship of hers. I gathered that much from the look on Gibbs' face after she'd talked to him. He thinks he's so closed off emotionally, but not where Abby's concerned. If it were anyone but Gibbs, I'd tease him mercilessly about it. But this is Gibbs, and this is Abby.
Tall, quirky, black-wearing, goth-music-loving Abby. I've never seen the woman so subdued and out of control as she's been the past day or so.
And what was that about my shoes? She nearly knocked me off my feet, quite literally, in her attempt to see what shoes I was wearing. Like I'd change out of my boots when working. If I don't have to wear some stupid undercover outfit, I only wear those boots at work. Anything else would be like McGee and Tony coming to work in a Chippendale dancer's outfit.
Okay, that train of thought needs to stop right there, or I'll make myself sick.
What am I doing? I should be getting ready for my run. All of this concentration on useless distractions is counterproductive. I've become soft living here in America: worrying about what my coworkers are wearing; what they think of me; what I think of them; getting personally involved with someone in a case I'm investigating. My father would laugh at me and call me a soft, American princess. Perhaps I should ask Director Sheppard for a leave of absence, go back to Israel for a time. Not that I expect she'll easily give it, not without a good reason. And I can't really tell her that I need to get away because America's made me loosen my strict personal rules.
"You know, you're lucky I'm not Gibbs."
Abby's soft voice is both amused and worried. But it's not what I want to be hearing right now. I need to be left alone. I need some time to process. I need…
"C'mon, Ziva, it's cold out and getting darker by the minute."
I shake my head and wrap my arms more tightly around my body. I'm not ready to leave yet. It hasn't been enough time. I can survive a little cold and darkness. I'm Mossad. I've been trained to handle anything. Anything.
"Gibbs'll kill me if I don't bring you back," Abby whines, tugging at my arm. "Don't make me drag you back to my car. I just got these nails done and I don't want them ruined before my party tomorrow night."
"Just go home, Abby," I finally say, not even bothering to hide the weariness I'm feeling. I don't even know how long I've been sitting here…or how I got here.
"Not unless you're with me," she replies, pulling even harder on my arm. "Gibbs made me swear, and I'm supposed to call him when I find you. You want him to show up?"
"No!" I glare at her, hoping to intimidate, but she just meets my stare, unfazed. "Abby, please," I finally plead, hating myself for even doing it. "I need to do this."
She studies me for a moment before nodding and pulls out a little blanket from her bag. Once it's set on the ground, she gets comfortable next to me, mimicking my posture. "Okay, I get it. But I won't let you do it alone, Ziva. None of the guys will either. You're one of us now, you know? You're like family." A troubled look crosses her face briefly. "I don't call people family or friend easily, Ziva. I hope you know that." And then she smiles broadly at me. "So, however long you need to sit here, I'll be right here with you." She accompanies her words with an arm around my shoulders.
"Thank you, Abby," I whisper around the lump forming in my throat, and let myself lean into her touch ever so briefly.
Silence falls as I focus on my breathing, eyes trained on the few words on the slab of granite in front of me. Every single time I remember seeing him on my morning runs plays across my mind, every one of our far too brief conversations. An endless loop that won't stop, no matter how much I want it to. The soft sounds of Abby's even breaths and the crows talking to each other only serve to drive home the point that I've become weak enough to let someone in when I shouldn't have.
I'm shivering suddenly, and no matter what I do, I can't seem to get warm. Except for my eyes, which feel like they're going to burn right out of their sockets. Why does this hurt so much? It's not like I even knew him all that long.
"It hurts because he was someone that meant something to you," Abby says softly, startling me as I realize I'd given voice to my thoughts. "It's not such a bad thing to let people in sometimes, you know." I can only nod and sniffle, brushing roughly at the tears leaving cooling trails on my cheeks. "Come on, Ziva, it's time to leave this place behind and continue with your life. He would have wanted it that way, and you know it."
I nod slowly, realizing she's probably quite right, and struggle to stand up. Clinging desperately to Abby's taller frame, I can't believe how bad my coordination is at the moment. Only then does it hit me just how long I've been sitting there. I never finished my morning run… Gibbs is going to kill me. Tony's never going to let me live this down.
"Gibbs wants to kill me, doesn't he?"
"No!" she laughs, but I can hear the concern hidden in her amusement. "I mean, yeah, he was kinda pissed, but he was more worried. This totally isn't like you, Ziva. But, you know, I'd totally expect him to slap you more often now."
I can't really say that I remember much of the trip to my apartment. I really should have been paying attention; it's not every day I get a ride in Abby's…hearse. And yet, I find myself curled up on my couch, wrapped in one of my warmest quilts. I can hear Abby in the kitchen, humming something oddly soothing, even if I can't place it. When she comes into the room and wraps my hands around a mug that's so warm, it's painful. I can't keep hold of it because I'm shivering so badly.
"Take it easy, Ziva," she murmurs, putting the cup on the coffee table. And then I feel her arms encircling my body, bringing me closer into her body's warmth, her personal space. "Let it out, okay? You're bottling up your emotions and it's really affecting you. I won't tell anyone anything you don't want me to, but you really need to get whatever this is off your chest. You can trust me, Ziva. Honest."
I want to trust her, but… The next thing I know, words are tumbling out of my mouth so fast. It feels like I'm going to just talk every single internal organ out of my body and onto the floor in front of me. And then the tears come. If I thought the tears hurt in the cemetery, I was wrong. This feels so much worse.
But I can't stop.
No matter what I do, I can't stop.
And Abby is right there for me the whole time. Gently consoling, encouraging, keeping me safe.
What's happening to me?
My own cries startle me out of what feels like a rather deep sleep. Struggling, I kick against the covers and a mattress that's begun to fight back. What the hell is going on here?
"Easy, easy," comes a vaguely familiar voice in my ear. "You're okay, Ziva. Just relax, it was only a dream. You're safe."
Similar words are repeated until I finally recognize that voice as Abby's. Wait a minute. I still and blink owlishly down at her. "Abby? What--?"
There's something in her eyes that robs me of all coherent speech. All I can do is stare at her and pray the connection between mind and mouth is reestablished soon.
"You wouldn't let go," she finally says softly, breaking the intense eye contact between us. "You cried yourself into a stupor, practically curled up in my lap. I tried to get up at one point, and you clung even harder and begged me to stay. I couldn't leave you all alone like that." She grins sheepishly. "We must've shifted in our sleep to end up like this."
"Not that I mind," I reply before I even realize what I'm saying. When the words do register, I feel my face flushing hotly, and I can't get up soon enough. Except my body isn't cooperating at all, resulting in the two of us tumbling to the floor in a tangle of arms, legs, and squawks of surprise. "I'm, uh, I'm so sorry, Abby," I splutter, tripping over the words in a way I haven't done since my older sister caught me doing 'unnatural' things and threatened to tell our father.
She chuckles softly and leans up to press her lips to the tip of my nose. "Sorry for what? You had a rough night and needed some comfort. I didn't mind at all." And then her eyes begin to sparkle mischievously. "You don't even move much in your sleep, but you sure do mumble a lot."
I can feel the blush deepening slightly; I've been told this before. I just hope I didn't say anything too damaging… "Yes, well…"
"Too bad I don't know all those languages you know," she muses, and I realize her hands are gently stroking along the curve of my spine. "I'd love to know what you were saying. Besides my name, of course." Again with the mischievous grin. That thing is deadly. If she keeps this up much longer, all the blood in my body will be burning in my face…or in my groin.
"I don't talk in my sleep." My denial sounds strained, even to my own ears. What the hell did I say? And in which language? The very idea that I may have let something slip terrifies me.
"Of course not, Ziva. I must have been dreaming it."
Oh, I can see the easy out she's given me. Not many people in my life would have afforded me this same opportunity. And yet I'm torn as to whether I should take it or not. And if I take it, what will that mean for the friendship we've finally forged into something that I like?
"Um, Ziva? Can you get up? I gotta pee like a racehorse."
Confusion helps to clear the heat of my embarrassment. "Like a what?"
"I gotta go!" Abby whines, squirming under me in ways that I'm not exactly sure I should be enjoying.
Before I can answer her, she rolls out from under me and hobbles toward the bathroom. A sudden chill from the lack of contact with Abby's body catches up with me, and I curl up against the couch, arms wrapped around me in echo of the position I'd held in the cemetery. I can't help wondering just what's going on with me. Just this -- no, yesterday morning, I was upset and missing Roy on my run. I ended up in the damned cemetery, mutely sitting vigil in front of his gravestone. No one called me, no one tried to find me. Except for Abby. Sure, Gibbs probably did send her; he probably sent the whole team out, but she was the only one who knew where to find me. She stayed with me, brought me home, and stayed with me again when I asked her. She's tried to be a friend, has been a friend, despite any intentions on my part to discourage her. After Kate's death, after the ending of that particular relationship, Abby still let me in. And I? I sit here with this quandary. A part of me wants to let Abby in, and yet I still rebel against that.
Abby's contented sigh pulls me out of my thoughts, and I find myself watching her make her way back across the room to plop down next to me. Somewhere along the way, she lost her boots, which now sit on her other side. She's wiggling her toes. Abby is wiggling her toes, individually encased within knee-high rainbow-striped socks with these tiny red and black skulls and crossbones covering them.
The giggles start, not stopping until I'm nearly faint with the lack of oxygen. Toes still wiggling, Abby's giggling right along with me, face red with the exertion. Panting for breath, she leans over and pulls at my running shoes. Her touch tickles, and I can't help shying away.
"Abby, what are you doing?"
"Shoes are overrated," she replies simply and leans back against the couch again, flinging an arm around my shoulders. We lapse into that same comfortable silence from the car ride home last night. I can't explain why this feels so good, but I won't fight it. Not for the moment, at least, as I lean my head against her shoulder. "Are your parents tall? Your siblings?"
"My father and" -- I hesitate at mentioning Ari -- "my father is tall. My mother is average height, slightly taller than I am. My sister Tali was taller than average, but not extremely so. Why do you ask?" Abby shrugs and begins to play with my hair. "Abby?"
I grip her chin, trying to meet her gaze. She's got this sad, almost sheepish look on her face. "Marty dumped me," she finally murmurs. "He said I'm too tall for him."
My mind races to figure out who she's talking about, but I can't come up with anything. I can see her need to talk written so plainly on her face, so I just sit there and wait for her to feel comfortable. Turn about is certainly fair play. She rambles on, left hand stroking my hair, right hand gesturing animatedly as she talks. It's a sad, strange tale she tells, punctuated by the melancholic expression on her face. The longer she talks, the more worked up she gets.
"Abby," I say, touching her cheek. It's enough to jerk her out of her tirade mid-word; wide hazel eyes stare back at me and I can see the smudges of mascara rimming them. "If he can't see past something you've no control over, he's a misguided idiot and doesn't deserve you. You are a beautiful, bright woman and you shouldn't have to change anything about yourself to please another person. It's his loss that he's so narrow minded as to treat you this way after this long."
She blinks owlishly at me once, twice, and her lower lip juts out in a pout ever so slightly as she leans into my hand. "You really think so?" It's not right for this strong woman to sound so uncertain of herself.
"Yes, I do," I reply with a smile. "Besides, his loss is my gain." Where in the world did that come from? "I mean, someone else's gain."
"No." The word is accompanied by one of those lovely sly grins stealing across her face. "You said your gain, Ziva. What did you mean?"
Think! "I, uh, I didn't mean anything by it." It sounds pathetic even to my ears. "I just meant that, well, you've got so much to offer--"
My words are cut off by the strangest of sensations: Abby's lips pressed against mine. I want to struggle, to push her away, but I can't. In fact, I can't even stop my eyes from fluttering shut, or from whimpering when she pulls away.
"You liked that, didn't you?" Abby's voice is softer than I expected, but that could be due to the blood pounding in my ears.
"I--" Did I? "Abby--"
"Thank you." Her words startle me, and I'm sure my confusion is clearly written on my face. "I'm glad you're safe, okay? I'm glad nothing happened to you while you were gone yesterday, and that you let me bring you home out of the cold. I'm glad you trusted me enough to tell me about Lt. Sanders and everything you went through with him. I'm glad you got to sleep through the night, even if I had to be your bed." Abby quirks a grin at me, and tugs at my hair lightly. "You know, you're a lot more solid than I figured you'd be."
"I am? Wait, you thought about my weight?"
She shrugs nonchalantly. "It's not important, Ziva. You shared your grief with me, and you let me share my problems with you. That's all that matters, you know? This is just… Thank you, Ziva. Thank you for being a friend, for letting me be your friend."
And there it was. Abby was giving me another out. For many, many months now, she's been giving and I've just been taking. Taking the outs, the friendship, the information. Always taking. Never giving. She had to find me at one of my lowest points before I'd offer to give her even a crumb of information. And she's gladly taken it and not said anything.
I can't continue keeping people at arm's length. Ari's death has stunted my social skills more than I care to admit. Nearly losing Gibbs only made my self-induced separation more painfully obvious. And then, I let Roy Sanders in, knowing he would die. It was a safe relationship. I can't keep doing things that keep me emotionally safe. It's not fair to me…or to anyone else.
Abby's confused, worried tone brings me out of my thoughts, spurs me into action. I shake my head and smile at her, ignoring the welling emotions beginning to leak from the corners of my eyes. I stroke her cheek before pulling framing her face in both hands. And I kiss her.
Damn the consequences. I need to feel. I need to know that I'm capable of interacting on a personal level with another person that isn't based on my job, my assignment. Even if nothing more than friendship ever comes of this, I need to take this chance.
"No, Abby," I murmur, pulling back to meet her curious gaze. "Thank you."