She remembered it as if it were yesterday. She had come in early. Too early. Ziva wasn’t even in yet. She hadn’t been able to sleep. The dead officer’s face kept creeping into her mind, goading her. He had been the victim but he had also been the killer. So she had showered, dressed, and drove. And she had ended up here. In her cubby, under the soft lights of the office. She had looked around, thinking how quiet it was without Tony and Ziva, arguing and flirting. Flirting and arguing. And McGee trying to mediate. And Gibbs. She turned in her seat and stared at his empty chair. Such a strong presence and yet she knew there was a vulnerability. She had rarely glimpsed that side of him. She got the feeling that no one ever got to see the inside of the famous Gibbs gut. And just as her mind had taken a more x-rated train of thought, it was interrupted by a low male voice.
“It’s 3 in the morning, Lizzy. What the hell are you doing here”?
She turned to find Special Agent Gibbs’ stealth blue eyes staring down at her. Coffee in one hand and a bagel in the other, he stood before her looking almost awake.
“It’s amazing how the mind plays tricks on you. The whole REM thing—it’s got to be fictitious. I personally am completely exhausted,” she said as she covered a yawn with her hand, “but my brain had other plans. What’s your excuse”?
“I ran out of sandpaper” he said.
“For my boat.”
“Is there an echo in here?” Gibbs said as he sat down at his desk to the right of her.
“So you ran out of sandpaper for your boat at three in the morning and Lowe’s was closed so you thought NCIS. NCIS sells sandpaper by the boat—load” she said and a smile crept across her face as she realized her pun.
Gibbs leaned back in his chair, facing her. He stared at her silently for a full minute, then spoke.
“Your computer’s beeping. Any particular reason?”
“Actually—I was curious.”
“Curiosity killed the cat, you know,” Gibbs said as he slid his chair over to her desk and set his coffee down.
“I heard that once” she said knowingly.
Gibbs tilted his head and raised an eyebrow.
“Ok—more than once. So I’m a curious person. Is it a crime?” she said shaking her head.
“Then show me where your curiosity led you” Gibbs said, sliding his chair even closer so he could see her computer.
He doesn’t even want to know where my curiosity would lead me when he sits this close, she thought. Mmmm…. And his aftershave. No, not aftershave, sawdust. She closed her eyes and inhaled slowly. There were few other things more attractive to her than a man that smelled that damn good. It was like an orgasm for the senses and Gibbs was a walking tribute.
Her fingers started moving quickly across the keyboard. “Petty Officer Simms not only was leading a double life but she was leading a very financially sound double life.”
Gibbs looked sideways at her. “Meaning?”
“Meaning… that Officer Simms had an offshore account that is in excess of 10 million dollars. And if you trace the money to the point of deposit, you find out something even more interesting” Lizzy said as she double clicked her mouse and stared intently at her screen, zoning out momentarily.
“Do I have to beg?” he said, tilting his head to look at her.
She met his eyes and had the weird feeling that his train of thought had derailed at the same station as hers. The station of discarded clothes, heavy breathing, and blue eyes. Wow. She could stay stranded at this station for a while. The look in Gibbs eyes said he felt the same way.
Beg? he thought. Did he really just offer to beg this woman for information? He could think of a number of other things he’d like to beg this woman for and information didn’t even make the top ten.
“So who’s the curious one now?” she asked with a grin. “See for yourself” she said as she pointed toward the screen.
He knew he didn’t have to but—what the hell? He stood and moved behind her chair and leaned in until they were almost cheek to cheek, a move he had seen Ziva perfecting with Tony for years. Damn she smelled good. Was it her hair? Maybe perfume? Her soap? Her voice broke into his thoughts.
“Officer Simms was running a brothel. She had modern day concubines who were on the clock 24/7 with all the profits dumped directly into--“
“The offshore accounts,” Gibbs finished for her. “Is this her website?” he asked, his eyes moving across the screen.
“Excellent observation, my dear Watson” she said as she shifted position in her chair. Having Gibbs this close was making her senses go haywire.
“And the husband knew nothing?” Gibbs asked.
“Clueless. Like most me—“
She was cut off. “Don’t even say it,” he said with a grin and moved back to his chair. Being that close to her was giving him sensory overload.
“I was wondering…,” she said as she reached for the coffee cup sitting on her desk. She sipped slowly and leaned back in her chair.
“Uh, Lizzy?” Gibbs said.
She’s clearly working an angle and has no idea she swiped MY coffee, he thought. Or did she? He wondered if she was aware of what she had done, and if she did, did she know how sexy she looked doing it. Lower lip resting on the lid of the cup. She slowly curled the cup into her chest. And sexy, hell! His coffee was his coffee and his coffee was black. And hot. And damn good. Not one woman in his life had ever shared his taste in coffee. Either she was too lost in thought to notice or she appreciated a good cup of java. Either way, it was his damn coffee!
“Lizzy” he said more sternly.
She jumped at the sound of his voice and took another slow sip of coffee.
“Sorry. I was just thinking that if Officer Simms’ husband happened onto the website or found one of their catalogs by chance… Pure coincidence, really… Then he might have—“
She was cut off once again. “Lizzy”
“Yes Gibbs” she said turning to look directly at him.
“My coffee?” he said with an outstretched hand.
“No it’s not. It’s…” her voice trailed off as she realized that she had not stopped for coffee on her way in.
“It’s what, Agent Edwards?” he asked as he reached for the cup.
“It’s…damn good coffee” she said as she handed back the cup. He took a sip and leaned back, cup in hand.
“You know, most women don’t appreciate a good cup of plain, thick as tar, straight brewed joe.”
“If you haven’t already noticed, Agent Gibbs, I’m not anything like most women.”
She leaned closer, took the cup right out of his hands, took a long sip, winked at him and set the cup between them.
Damn, this woman had balls, he thought. None of his ex-wives or ex-girlfriends had ever touched his coffee. This was insubordination. This was blatant disrespect for authority. AND it was sexy as all get out. An open challenge. Her arms were crossed, leaning on the desk. He moved his chair closer, crossed his arms, and leaned in as well.
And this was how Ziva found them, many, many, minutes later. Staring at each other. Over top of a single cup of coffee. She raised an eyebrow and wondered if she should even ask.