Tony is not the first person to knock on Ziva’s door after Somalia; neither is Gibbs. It’s not even McGee, for that matter. It is Abby. She comes bearing an eco-friendly grocery bag and a hesitant smile. She asks, “You have a gas stove, right?”
Ziva nods. Abby stands there for a moment longer before asking, “May I come in?”
Ziva has just gotten this place. It has none of her things in it—they were all destroyed. She hasn’t even bought a bed yet. But it is her space, and nobody can come into it, nobody is allowed to take her from it and hurt her.
Softly, Abby says, “You can always kick me out.”
Ziva stands back to let her inside.
Abby heads straight to the kitchen and starts unpacking her bag. Inside is a box of Trader Joe’s graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows, and a cachet of Neuhaus milk chocolate bars. Neuhaus has always been Ziva’s favorite, at least since the time she had her first at eleven. She wonders if Abby somehow knows this, or if she simply picked the best type of chocolate available.
“Abby,” Ziva says.
“S’mores are the very best welcome back food,” Abby tells her.
Ziva has heard of s’mores, of course, but they are a camping food, a recreational food. She has never been in a situation that would lend itself to that sort of treat.
Abby asks, “How do you like your marshmallows?”
“I don’t understand the question.”
Abby looks a little nonplussed by that but recovers easily. “We’ll just have to try out a few variations.”
The next thing Ziva knows, her stove is on, the blue flames reaching out and licking at a marshmallow at the end of a kebab stick that was evidently also in Abby’s bag. The marshmallow catches on fire and Abby lets it burn for a while, twisting it into the flames before blowing it out and giving it a moment to cool. She pries it off the stick and hands it to Ziva. “Taste.”
Ziva considers, but Abby has long since stopped being mean for the sake of a dead friend. Ziva’s almost entirely sure this gesture—Abby’s presence—is meant in kindness. She puts the burnt marshmallow in her mouth and tries it out. It is a mixture of flakey texture on the outside, sweetness and stickiness on the inside. “Oh.”
“Good?” Abby asks. She’s already peeling another marshmallow off the stick, this one only lightly browned and bubbled on its outside.
Ziva takes it from her and tries it too. It doesn’t have the same contrast. “Burnt.”
Abby grins. “Those are my favorites, too.”
Ziva takes a seat on her counter as Abby puts together the full treat: breaking the crackers into the right size, doing the same for the bars, layering them correctly, and then seeing to the perfect marshmallow. When she finishes she says, “Give it a minute, for the marshmallow to melt the chocolate a little.”
Ziva does as she’s told, and follows when Abby picks her s’more up. It is a little tricky to bite into, and more than a bit messy, but it is also just crunchy enough and just smooth enough and just rich enough to take Ziva’s breath away. She hadn’t thought she missed food specifically, not certain tastes or anything, just the feeling of being satisfied, but this makes her rethink that.
Abby grins at her, chocolate and crumbs on her face. “These always make me feel, I don’t know. Like things matter. Like this world must make a little bit of sense, if it came up with something this awesome.”
Ziva takes another bite and chews slowly. When her mouth is no longer full she says, “Thank you.”
Abby’s expression is compassionate, but not cloying. “They’re better when shared with a friend.”
It’s still too new, too raw to think she can really trust these people to be at her back, where nobody else has ever unconditionally been. She opens her mouth, unsure of how to respond. Abby asks, “More?”
Ziva nods. “Yes. That would be-- Please.”