Chapter Notes: Written for the schmoop_bingo prompt "Playing matchmaker".

Chapter 13 :: Leap Second Time Adjustment Day
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter

++ Monica ++


"Well, that could have gone better," Dana mutters, sighing at the sludge they call coffee at the nurse's station. "God, I want some real coffee."

"You need more coffee like you need a hole in the head, baby," I reply softly, squeezing her arm. "And if Kerry sees you with that coffee right now, she'll have your butt in a sling."

Staring at the cup for a long moment as if it might actually move or something, Dana finally tosses it into the trash with another sigh. "I hate it when you're right."

"No, you're just afraid of Kerry and her crutch," I tease lightly, laughing when she sticks her tongue out at me. "Come on, I'll buy you a sandwich and some juice down in the cafeteria. We need to look at this information a little more closely anyway."

She nods and leads the way down to the cafeteria in silence, a copy of DiNozzo's medical file open in her hands. I'll never understand just how easily she can study that file and maneuver herself through the busy corridors of the hospital, even at this ungodly late hour of the night. Thankfully, the cafeteria has a quiet and clean table in the corner, which Dana quickly commandeers as I round up respectably healthy food for the two of us. Salads, chicken salad sandwiches, and fruit are the best thing for us right now. None of it is too heavy on our stomachs, and the fruit and OJ will definitely help to keep us more alert at this point. It's not like we can leave and go home, not with Ziva here Guide-less.

"Salad and a sandwich? Are you trying to get into heaven or something?" Dana teases, grabbing for a banana on the tray before I can set it down. "Or just keeping Kerry at bay?"

"Very funny," I toss back at her. "Just for that, you don't get any of the chocolate milk I found."

She makes grabby hands at the carton, but I simply smile and open the carton before tilting my head back to drain it empty in a couple of long gulps. The shocked pout on her face is priceless when I come up for air again, and I can't help snickering in response as I toss the other carton at her.

"You're a bitch sometimes, Reyes, you know that?"

"And you love me for it, don't you, Scully?"

She snorts softly, drawn back to the file as she finishes off the fruit and milk. "This DiNozzo is damned lucky to be alive, even if he's currently floating in a comatose state. I don't know how he managed to survive that attack."

"Sheer perversity, from what his teammates have explained about his personality." Pausing to take a bite of my sandwich, I consider the yellow pad Dana's been taking notes on. "So what do you think the odds are of Ziva and Natalia being a match? Do we have a united Sentinel-Guide pair on our hands? Or are we going to have two disappointed and unattached people?"

Dana shrugs and stares at the file for a moment longer before closing it. "I don't know. The only thing I know for sure right now is that Calleigh's torn between wanting Ziva to be the one for Nat--"

"And wanting this to be all wrong," I continue smoothly. "Yeah, I know. I wish there was something I could tell her, or do for her, to make this whole situation easier. And she doesn't even have the dangling half of a bond to worry about." I shake my head and viciously stab at a tomato in my salad. "No, I take that back. She does have a dangling half of a bond to worry about. She's the only anchor Nat's got that isn't somehow related to the Sentinels and Guides we've managed to collect out at the Ranch."

"It sounds like we're some sort of hoarders when you say it like that."

Silence descends again for several minutes as we work our way through every last crumb of food on the tray. Dana's focus returns to the medical file, while I grab the FBI files on DiNozzo and his entire team, plus the files I have on Calleigh and Natalia. I am still surprised by the thickness of Ziva's file, but I know I shouldn't be. She has been a Mossad agent for what seems her entire life. Comparing and contrasting the information between Nat's and Ziva's files, I am struck once again by the differences in their lives.

"Dana, did you know that there's a ten and a half year gap in age between Nat and Ziva?"

"So?" Dana asks, not bothering to glance up from the file she's still studying. What on earth can she be studying for so long in that one file? "There's a larger gap between Zo and Kerry. And don't forget about Anastasia and Tessa."

"I know, I just find it interesting, that's all. Besides, your examples aren't Sentinel-Guide pairs, so that's different."

Now she looks up at me with an exasperated glare. "Okay, then how about Jim and Blair? There's at least the same ten year age gap for them as for Nat and Ziva. What's your point, Mon?"

"None, I guess. I just thought it was interesting. How on earth do the genetics work to have Sentinels and Guides pair up when they're of different ages? What if one dies before the other? I mean, with Jim and Blair, the Sentinel half is older, and we have a pretty strong speculation that the Guides can live okay without the Sentinels. But Ziva's the younger one if this match works out. What would happen to her if Natalia dies before her? Will she end up like Alexis?"

That thought is sobering. Even after four years of working with and watching over the half-crazed Sentinel, I am still completely in awe of her ability to survive through all of her insanity without her Guide. Yes, Tory has been a godsend, and the other Sentinel-Guide pairings living at the Ranch have done everything they could to help with Alexis, but most of them are children and unable to be left with her unsupervised.

"We're better off not thinking about that sort of thing right now," Dana finally says. "I know it's something we'll need to be prepared for, but right now, without even knowing whether Ziva and Natalia are a match, it's superfluous to waste energy on that train of thought. Right?"

"No, you're right. I just have to wonder about these things."

Dana smiles and reaches across the table to squeeze my hand. "You overthink things sometimes, Mon, and it can drive me absolutely insane, but I know you mean well by it. You just want to make sure that you have all of your bases covered, especially since everything comes down on you for this project." When I nod, she squeezes my hand again. "Tell you what. If you're right, and your little bit of Sentinel matchmaking works, I will take you out to dinner at that fancy restaurant that Dace likes. You know which one I mean, right? Iím completely blanking on the name right now."

Grinning broadly, I nod. "Oh, I know which one you're talking about and no, I can't remember the name either. How sad are we tonight?"

"Not sad, tired."

"Good point." Before I can say anything else, I yawn loudly and suddenly. "Thanks for reminding me, mi corazon."

Dana's delighted chuckle is marred by her own yawn, though it's nowhere near as loud as mine. "I take full responsibility for that. And I plan to take a nice long nap tomorrow with you, and hopefully William, after this introduction is done."

"I think I like that idea."

And I put in a prayer to any deity that might be listening that this meeting is successful, and that DiNozzo comes out of his coma soon. It's the least that Ziva and Natalia deserve.