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Nobody had ever had to tell Ziva that her body was a weapon; the fact was self-evident. She had not killed particularly early—her first was at nineteen, over a year into her service—nor even particularly often, given her line of work for nearly a decade. More often than not, she had used an exterior weapon of some sort: knife, gun, blunt object. But she had also snapped necks and spinal chords, asphyxiated, blinded and concussed persons with her bare hands, her booted feet, her thighs.

Even when she’d changed jobs, joined NCIS full-time rather than straddling the gap between nations, agencies and alliances, she hadn’t felt the need to rethink that. Her body was a utilitarian unit, functional in protecting herself and those close to her, at least from the physical threats presented.

Ziva had relied on seeing her body that way, rested on the knowledge without even knowing she was doing so. Having that taken away from her, well, that was just one more open wound Ray Cruz had left in his wake.


“A couple of kids,” he’d said. It seemed odd to Ziva she’d never once thought about the fact that her body could create something, and now that it had been mentioned it was all she could think about.

She went to Gibbs’ place at nearly midnight on the second night after Ray’s arrest, because she knew she could slip down to the basement, let bourbon override the jumble of her thoughts, and use the strength she so depended upon to sand down whatever he was currently working on, her contribution to the building of a boat, a toy, a household decorative piece.

He came down around one, but he just poured her another finger and did some carving, silent and unquestioning. She appreciated it. He might have been the person to talk to, perhaps, but she was not certain, and even if he was, she didn’t have the words for any questions she needed to ask, any assertions she needed to make.

At some point he herded her up the stairs, his hand warm at the small of her back, and put her on the couch. He murmured, “Try to sleep, kid.”

He didn’t leave her, sitting down in the armchair. For his sake, she tried.


Abby might talk more than almost anyone—Ducky and Palmer excluded—but she was damn good at knowing when a person needed silence, which was why Ziva had found herself hiding in Abby’s labs more than once in her tenure at NCIS. She was there for the silence—or the deafening beat of hardcore synth, good at drowning everything else out—when she found herself coming to stand next to Abby.

Abby gave her a sidelong glance for a moment before killing the music. “Hey.”

Ziva smiled at her, tight but warm. Now that there was the space to talk, she wasn’t sure where to begin. She was good at acting, but the discussion aspect of relationships had been something she’d had to work at, teach herself.

Abby said, “It’s okay, you know? If you want me to turn the music back on.”

“Have you ever thought about having kids?” The words came out fast and uncertain.

As though to even things out, Abby said slowly, “No. I mean, I’ve kinda known since I was in grad school that this kind of stuff, the science, the job, was my one true love. And kids were just…I never understood them, not even when I was one.”

Ziva took this in, nodding. Abby asked, “You want kids?”

“I… I don’t know.” Ziva wasn’t sure how to explain that she had never considered it an option until someone else had pointed it out to her. She felt stupid and unaware, disconnected from herself. All she could admit aloud was, “I don’t know anything about it.”

Abby tilted her head. “That’s not really true. You know kids need love. You know they want to make their parents proud. You know they strive for acceptance.”

Ziva opened her mouth to say everyone knew those things. Thinking on how she knew those things, though, she realized that wasn’t precisely true. All the same, she smiled sardonically. “Knowing something and putting it to use are two very different things.”

Abby nodded. “Yeah, but you’d be a kickass mom.”

Ziva blinked at the easy, sincere way Abby said that. “I-- Thank you.”

Abby smiled, then, wide and somehow serious. After a second, she went back to what she was working on, turning the music up.


Sparring was about timing, about the cues an opponent gave, about action and reaction. When Ziva went to the krav maga studio she belonged to in order to get a little practice in, she usually let herself rely on instinct to get through the sessions.

The next time she went, though, she made herself pay attention to her own body, her own movements, the way she fit into the “dance,” as it were. She thought maybe, if her focus wasn’t always on results, on winning, her body could feel less like a weapon, and more like an instrument. Instruments were flexible, useful in a number of ways dependent upon the person wielding or playing them.

Ziva had been honest, she had no idea if she wanted children, no idea if having one or two would be good for anyone. But she wanted to come to an understanding of her body that allowed for the possibility, gave her that option.

She put on her sparring gear and went to her toes. She breathed in and out, catching the rhythm of her movement. She waited, waited, and at the right moment, when everything in her aligned, she struck.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile