Author: Beckymonster (becky_monster)
Characters: Ziva David, Jenny Shepard, Cynthia Sumner
Spoilers: Spoilers for Season 4
Word Count: 2,350
Written For: mtfierce
Prompt:"Sometimes you're strongest when you give."
Author's Notes: Beta'ed by periwinkle27 and looked over by wiccagirl24, they make me look good
My thanks to mtfierce for her prompts - I hope I did them justice.
Summary: It's just another day at the Navy Yard - but what's bugging Ziva? And what can her friend Jenny do about it?
Asking answered questions
“We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give.”
Sir Winston Churchill
Anyone passing the coffee nook, just off the bullpen, would have noticed Ziva David standing by the coffee maker, her hands curled tightly around the counter. If they paused (unlikely in such a busy office) long enough to look closer, they would have noticed that her knuckles were turning white from the pressure she was exerting on the counter ledge.
If anyone had paused, only the green or the foolhardy would ask what was wrong with Officer David. She was up there with Agent Gibbs on the ‘NCIS Not To Be Crossed’ list. Scuttlebutt knew about the eighteen ways she claimed to be able to kill someone with a paperclip. No one knew if she had been joking or not, but no one was going to take chances.
Cynthia Sumner had walked into the the coffee nook with two errands on her mind. One was to find some decent coffee because the Director had drunk the last of the decent stuff. She’d be lucky to get some new stuff until lunch break if she was lucky. For a federal agency that was fuelled purely on the dark stuff, the coffee tasted like bilge water, hence the coffee run. The other was to pass along the message to Officer David that the Director wished to see her.
Somebody up there must have been looking out for Cynthia as there, large as life, was both decent coffee and Officer David.
“Officer David, are you all right?” Cynthia asked as she washed out the office carafe, making it ready to pour enough decent coffee to keep her and the Director caffeinated until lunchtime.
“I am... fine,” Ziva replied, slowly uncurling her hands from the countertop.
“The Director would like to speak with you,” Cynthia stated, pouring coffee from one jug to the one from her office. She knew that the other woman was lying but she wasn’t paid enough to inquire further. Being stuck in hospital because she’d pissed off one of the deadliest women at the agency wouldn’t pay the rent on her shoebox in Georgetown.
Ziva pushed her shoulders back and lifted her head up. “Did she say when?”
“Very well,” David replied, offering up a small smile to the other woman. It didn’t quite reach her dark, tired-looking eyes. “Gibbs is out of the office and the other two are playing nookie, so I will not be missed for a short while.”
Cynthia shook her head; she would happily put money on the fact that Ziva changed her words on purpose to get others to lower their guard. She knew Ziva meant to say ‘hooky’ but went for the more ‘amusing’ slip. Either way, she was going to have to be very careful around Agents DiNozzo and McGee for the foreseeable as keeping a straight face wasn’t going to happen.
“Shall we?” Cynthia asked, gesturing the way to the elevators. Ziva nodded once before leading the way.
“You wanted to see me, Director?”
Jenny Shepard looked up from the report and slid her glasses off her nose. Any respite from the latest intel from the Naples Office was greatly welcomed. Special Agent Calavacci was a good man and a damn fine agent but he couldn’t write reports worth a damn.
“Ziva, come in please; have a seat.” She gestured to the younger woman with a smile.
“Thank you, Director,” Ziva replied as she entered the spacious office to take the seat before Jenny’s desk.
As they exchanged pleasantries about the weather and the whereabouts of Ziva’s team-mates, Jenny noticed that Ziva was not herself. The hint was so subtle that Jenny wondered if anyone else had noticed the slight change in the younger woman’s demeanor. Most likely not, was Jenny’s assessment of the situation; which left Jenny in a predicament.
How did one go about solving an issue that the other party wouldn’t admit to having? It was a tough problem, she hadn’t made Director of NCIS by shirking the difficult issues - however big or small they were.
“Walk with me, Ziva” Jenny ordered as she stood up. She had requested Ziva’s presence to discuss a matter that Ziva was the best equipped to deal with. As such, she needed to be sure that the younger woman was at least receptive to her request. She needed to get to the root of what was bothering her agent and friend before discussing other matters; she was sure that it was nothing that a change of scenery couldn’t help with.
“Of course, Director,” Ziva noted as she followed the other woman out of the office. “Where are we going?” she asked curiously.
“Cynthia - I'm headed out to the coffee shop for an hour,” Jenny stated as she picked up both her jacket and pocketbook. “Hold my calls--”
“Don’t tell Agent Gibbs where you’ve gone and can you please pick up some more coffee?” Cynthia finished as the two women walked past her desk. “We ran out earlier - I had to plunder the Bullpen’s supply,” she added sheepishly.
“Leave a Petty Cash form on my desk,” Jenny noted with a sigh as Ziva opened the door for her. “And if SecNav call -”
“You have your cell,” Cynthia finished.
Jenny took Ziva’s arm into hers as the door to the Director’s office closed behind them.
“Now, you and I shall go to the local Boomer’s and you can tell me what’s bothering you and I can ask you to perform a duty for me.” Jenny explained as she called the elevator.
For a moment, it looked as if Ziva would argue with her but it passed without comment. Ziva's behavior struck Jenny as being out of place and she was still detective enough to want to find out what it was and deal with it.
Ziva David gave due thought to excusing herself to pick up her jacket and SIG but decided against it. Jenny would see through the subterfuge and call her bluff. Not only that but her actions would attract the attentions of her team mates, which was the very last thing that Ziva wanted. They might have, inadvertently, caused her malaise, but it was up to her to cure it.
One flaw in that plan - she had no idea how she was going to administer the cure she needed. She didn’t even know if there was a cure for what ailed her.
The two women walked out of the NCIS headquarters and walked across the quad towards the coffee shop, each lost in their thoughts.
Ziva glanced at the woman walking at her side. The passage of time had been kind to Jenny since they had first met some six years before. Washington in May was nothing like springtime in Cairo, or Tel Aviv for that matter. The realization made Ziva break her stride for a moment before she continued onwards. Now was not the time to indulge in such behavior. She had a job to do.
"You will tell me what’s going on," Jenny noted as they entered the busy coffee shop. Ziva knew that Jenny wasn't giving her an order, it was just that one way or another she would end up telling the other woman everything.
"You've been working with Gibbs for too long," Jenny noted with a laugh as she went to place the order.
Ziva watched the crowd carefully as she picked her way through the tables, looking for a defensible and comfortable spot to sit and endure the upcoming interrogation. She caught the eye of a personable young man who was alone on at a table. He had large blue eyes and he gave her a beautiful smile as she approached. For a moment her heart clenched as she realized how much he looked like Roy Sanders. Even though nothing had had a chance to happen, it still cut deep.
“May I-” Ziva began to ask before he stood with a shy grin, saying, “Oh sure.” he moved to pick up his clutter as Jenny approached her, a tray of coffees and cakes in her hands. Ziva noted the curious look he gave both of them before he blushed red and left. His behavior struck her as being most peculiar.
She sunk down into the comfortable sofa, mindful of her surroundings. It was necessary, she was Mossad and she was also with the head of her agency. Unarmed as she was, it was the very least she could do.
“So, are you going to tell me willingly or do I have to withhold the carrot cake from you?” Jenny asked lightly as she set out the coffees on the table in front of them.
Ziva snorted as she picked up the coffee. Jenny had been her friend longer than she had been her boss. When her world had fallen apart after her brother’s betrayal, Jenny had been the one who had given her a chance for redress. She had saved her life and kept her secrets. If anyone could help it was her.
All Ziva had to do was give something of herself. A small thing but necessary.
“The English language has so many words that sound the same,” Ziva began after a sip of the hot bitter brew in her mug. “And that’s without even covering different meanings for different countries.”
Jenny watched her silently, sipping her coffee as she did so.
“I thought the boys were talking about medieval weaponry earlier today.” Ziva shrugged her shoulders. “I should have been paying more attention to my report than to what they were saying.”
“Dare I ask?” Jenny asked perplexed.
“I thought they were talking about cannons, as in weaponry but they were talking about canon for some comic book that has been made into a movie.” Ziva explained, “I should have ignored it but they mentioned Haifa.”
Jenny lent towards Ziva. “Didn’t you tell me that--”
“My family went there for our holidays when I was very young, yes,” Ziva explained, voice soft enough to be lost in the noise of the coffee shop.
Neither woman spoke for a few moments, the hubbub around them filling the space neatly.
“Did I ever tell you about the one thing I missed the most when I was overseas?” Jenny began. She glanced out of the coffee shop window frowning as she did so. It had started to rain heavily. Neither of them had brought umbrellas. “D.C. rainstorms,” she turned back to face Ziva, “I was fine until one day I caught an episode of The West Wing on TV, must have been in London or some place…” she trailed off.
“Didn’t speak of it to my partner,” Jenny noted with a wry smile, “You can guess why.” Ziva smiled slightly at that. She remembered clearly the stories Jenny told her that night. It hadn’t been too much of a surprise, to find years later, that everything was true.
“I think the ME we were working with guessed,” she explained, a faraway look in her eyes. “He made me tea and told me stories about his travels, said he still got homesick from time to time but he found that keeping busy was a great help in dealing with it.”
“Did it?” Ziva asked, taking a sip of coffee.
“You’ll have to ask Ducky when you see him next,” Jenny told her. She smiled wanly. “Seemed to work for me.”
“It seems such a silly thing,” Ziva commented. “Even though I love my work and I love being here... I wanted to be back there - even for a short while. Stand on Haifa beach, feel the sun on my face, let the water lap at my feet...” She shrugged her shoulders and looked down at the coffee in her hands.
Jenny took a sip of coffee. “Ducky has been asked to speak at a Medical Examiner’s conference in a month’s time,” she said calmly. “Very prestigious and so on.” She put the coffee down and handed Ziva a slice of cake. “I was going to ask if you wouldn’t mind accompanying him to the conference.”
“Why?” Ziva asked, completely confused. “It’s only usual procedure for only the Director to have an agent or two as escort.” She considered the proposal further. “Not that I mind, but..”
“After the unfortunate incident with one of Abby’s ex-boyfriends, I do not want important assets such as our chief ME being in a place where harm can come to him.” Jenny smiled slightly. “Admittedly, he will be in reasonably safe territory, but one can never be too safe.”
Ziva nodded, she would follow Jenny’s advice - keep busy and hopefully put the homesickness behind her. “Where is the conference?” she asked.
“Tel Aviv.” was Jenny’s reply.
Several Weeks Later
“Today’s mail, Director,” Cynthia stated placing a very large pile of papers onto Jenny’s desk. “You might want to take a look at the top item first,” she said as she retreated to the outer office.
“Thank you, Cynthia,” Jenny replied as she picked up both her coffee and the first item on the pile at the same time.
It was a postcard; on the front was a picture of a lovely sunny beach bearing the legend ‘Greetings from Haifa’.
Jenny turned it over to read the reverse.
The first part was written in Ducky’s familiar script. The conference had been a tremendous success, Ziva’s presence was partly responsible for that. He was enjoying his few days of freedom touring around Israel with Ziva as his guide. He finished off by noting that both Ziva and he thought that the beach on the front would be perfect if they ever made Tim’s book into a film.
The second part was written in Ziva’s handwriting. Just two words. Thank you.
Jenny placed the card against her computer monitor and dug into the waiting paperwork with a smile on her face.