Chapter 01

“Look at this place!” Rodney said in awe. “Had I been an archaeologist, I would have gone nuts!”

John shone his flash light around in the tomb. It was dark, mucky and filled with alien text that he didn’t recognize. “Can you read this?”

“No,” Rodney said, “And I don’t carry the ancient library of languages in my bag either, we’ll have to video tape it and take photo’s, I’m sure this is a great repository of knowledge!”

“Whatever, I’m just glad that there aren’t any un-friendlies here,” John shrugged and opened Rodney’s back pack to hand everyone a camera (why Rodney carried 4 of them with him was a mystery to him).

Ziva rolled her eyes and took her camera. She had a strange feeling of deja vu with the picture taking. Almost as if she was back at NCIS again. In any case, she walked to the next room of the satellite lab to take pictures in there.

As she had the gene like John, the lights went on when she entered. She’d gotten accustomed to it from over the months that she barely notices it anymore. One terminal she did notice was lit brighter than the others. After taking some photos of it, her curiosity got the better of her and reached out to touch the glowing blue crystal at its center.

“Oh crap,” Ziva said as she room shook and lights flickered.

“Ziva?” John walked after her and all he could see was darkness, except for the terminal Ziva was touching. “McKay!” he yelled.

“What did I tell you about not touching things before…” Rodney’s voice sounded, “We have no power here, what’s that light?!”

Within seconds, John saw how the machine was changing Ziva, and he really knew better than to try and pull her away, he didn’t want to hurt her and he was sure that McKay could reverse whatever was going on but what the hell was that machine doing? “Ziva! Let go!”

“It doesn’t seem like the terminal is getting enough power,” Rodney said, holding his energy reader. “I’m sure she’ll be fine once the machine is… holy crap!”

John blinked when all of a sudden the terminal shut off as they were standing in the pitch black lab. He shone his flashlight around to find Ziva. “Ziva?” he asked, and nearly jumped ten feet in the air when two yellow eyes got reflected in his light. “What the…”

Ziva tried to say that she was okay. It sounded to her as if it were coming through loud and clear. John! I’m fine! What’s the matter? Why are you scared? Oh shit John, don’t shoot me!! she tried saying repeatedly as the team had raised their weapons at her.

“Rodney, I think it’s time to pull out that mini generator of yours and get some lights in here,” John said carefully. “Ronon, don’t shoot to kill, we don’t know what that is, for all we know it’s Ziva.”

“I want to shoot something,” Ronon said grumpily.

“That growl sounded as if the animal is scared, John.” Teyla said, “I do not think it wishes to harm us.”

Damn right! Ziva said, standing up. Looking down, she realized she wasn’t standing on two feet but rather four paws. Oh my…JOHN?! What happened?! Of course, all her friends heard were the sounds of growls and other animalistic sounds from her.

McKay had the small generator running up in no time, and John was surprised at what he saw. There was no Ziva, his girlfriend had disappeared, it was just him, Ronon, Rodney and Teyla, and a huge black panther in the room. Rationality told him that Ziva couldn’t have just disappeared, he hadn’t seen any kind of transport beam.

“Can I shoot it now?” Ronon asked raising his blaster up at what he believed to be a threat.

No! You can’t shoot me! Ziva cried. What to do? What to do? She lowered herself to the ground, laying down in attempts to appear less hostile but all she wanted to do was tear someone’s head off.

“NO!” John glared at Ronon. “This is going to sound crazy…” he sighed and got onto his knees, looking at the creature, it was a gorgeous animal, with big yellow eyes, unless you shone your flash light in them, and they’d reflect. The animal had whimpered when Ronon wanted to shoot it, and then had laid down as if showing that it wasn’t dangerous. “What if that machine turned Ziva in to that?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Rodney huffed.

He glared at Rodney. “I’ll prove it,” he said as he moved towards the animal on his hands and knees.

“John!” Teyla let out a gasp. “Are you insane? It could very well bite your head off! Look at the size of its claws!”

“If it’s Ziva,” John said calmly, not wanting to sound freaked out, because if it was Ziva, she’d freak out if he’d be. “Then I’m safe.” He stretched out his hand towards the animal and gently started to caress its head. “Ziva?”

Oh thank goodness, she sighed and nuzzled him back. She tried her best to hum as she did with him in private and hoped it worked. To the human ears, the panther sounded as if it were purring.

“Rodney, I suggest you get that ancient language library thingy and start fixing this,” he glared at McKay as he moved closer towards Ziva the panther.

“I…” Rodney stammered. “On it,” he said and headed back to the gate with Teyla.

Ziva’s eyes followed the scientist and she snorted in irritation. Settling in on her side, she was surprised to find that it was quite easy to figure out the motions of her new form – but she’d rather much be human again. She poked her nose into John’s lap and looked up at Ronon, who was staring at her like she was dinner.

This was weird, he really tried hard not to think of Ziva as a panther, but he was slightly freaked out by the fact that she had her head in his lap, close to his crotch. Should anyone freak her out for some reason or whatnot, he was afraid that she’d hurt him. He slowly started to caress her sides, he had always hated cats, but he needed Ziva to stay calm or otherwise he was afraid that Ronon would shoot her.

“This is too weird.” Ronon grunted and walked out of the lab. “I guess I’ll help you out if you scream in agony when it thinks you’re a nice snack.”

A low growl came from Ziva as Ronon left before letting out a sigh and let her new large heavy head fall back into John’s lap. Her large eyes looked up at him, longing for him to understand her thoughts and how much she really was afraid right now. What if Rodney couldn’t change her back? Ziva was scared.

He could feel how she sighed deeply and settled her head into his lap. “Don’t worry Ziva, everything will be fine,” he said softly and scratched her behind the ears. “Rodney is the smartest person in two galaxies, I’m sure he’ll figure something out.”

Ohhh that feels good, Ziva said, purring to John. She was actually surprised at how much those little things people did to their animals, pet, scratch, really was enjoyable. If she ever had a pet, she would certainly pamper it like this. Unfortunately for her, she was the pet now.

He had to duck to avoid one of her paws hitting his head when she rolled over in his lap and he could swear he could see a smile on her face, as far as panthers could smile. He gently started to caress her stomach and Ziva was purring louder. “You know, in my head, I always compared you to a cat in heat,” he said, feeling how warm she actually was. “Now you’re actually a cat, a big one, but still very beautiful.” he smiled. “But bestiality is a no-no, you got that?”

Ziva laughed to herself. She didn’t expect anything like that but it wasn’t a bad thought if she was going to be stuck like this because like hell she’d let him go right away.

“Was that a snort?” he chuckled and shook his head. “Well, at least you have a story to tell to your friends back on Earth once McKay turns you back,” he said.

At the mention of Rodney, she sat up and looked at him. Blinking her eyes she didn’t know how to convey her concern about his ability to turn her back. All she wanted to do was be human and curl up in bed with John and sleep.

Her ears picked up the sound of rocks being kicked and twitched as her head turned to face the doorway to the section that she and John were in. Rising to her feet, or rather paws, she moved in front of where her love sat and crouched into an attack stance, not knowing who was coming.

“Ziva, that’s just Ronon, relax.” John got up and walked towards the opening of the door. “Ronon, did you see McKay yet?”

“No.” Ronon sounded grumpy. “Did you start making freaky kittens already?”

“Ew.”

Ziva looked at John and snorted her displeasure. She went up to Ronon slowly so that she could get a good whiff of him to remember for future reference so that she wouldn’t be on edge as much. Satisfied she got his scent down, she wandered out to look around the best she could. What else could she do? She didn’t want to just sit there all day and wait for Rodney to come back only to say she’s poop out of luck.

Watching her walk away Ronon grinned at John. “You know, if it wasn’t your girlfriend, that cat would be some good eating.”

“You eat cats? Are you insane?” John looked at Ronon. “And feeling a little bit sorry for Ziva won’t help either,” he said and followed Ziva, not wanting to lose sight of her in the rest of the dark building they were in, considering there was only light in the lab where Ziva had her accident.

The great thing about being a big cat now that Ziva liked, was that she didn’t need a lot of light. She actually found herself seeing quite well. Turning to see where John was, she was amused at his feeling around where the flashlight didn’t illuminate. She let out a small growl for him to hear where she was so that she could lead them out. It was the least she could do in her current state.

“Yeah yeah, I’m coming,” he said, stumbling into something solid. “Ow.”

She snorted again before going back to rub against his leg so that he could keep a hand on her while she walked. Ronon seemed to be doing just fine, which must have been from his time as a runner. In either case, she was eager to be back out in the sunlight.

Her… coat of fur, was shining beautifully in the sunlight, and she was even bigger than John had realized. “Ziva, I want to remind you of the rule of not wandering off…”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, she said before finding a patch of clear grass that looked out over the trail to the gate. I just hope that McKay hurries the hell up. I’m getting hungry. Ziva had crossed her paws and laid her head down in another exaggerated sigh, watching the gate in the warm sun.

“Sheppard, don’t you need to document this?” Ronon asked with a smirk on his face. “I remember we took pictures of you when you were turning in to a bug.”

“You did?”

“You were asleep most of the time.” Ronon shrugged, “But I’m sure that Colonel Carter and Dr. Woolsey would love to see pictures of your girlfriend who turned into a big cat due to one of the machines here.”

Ziva responded with a loud hungry roar at her sparring partner before turning back to her watch. Idiot, she thought.

“Easy Chewie, she didn’t have breakfast this morning,” John said.

Don’t remind me…That rabbit thing over there is actually looking tasty right now, Ziva said, of course to herself as she eyed the thing hopping.

“I have some energy bars and beef jerky though,” John said as he started to open his vest pockets. “Want some, Ziva?”

She looked at him and it looked as if she actually rolled her eyes. Like that would do anything to curb her hunger now. An hour or so ago, yeah. Ziva stood and wandered into the tree line and growled when John started to follow.

“I’m sorry but you’re not leaving my sight,” he apologized, “And Ronon will stun you should you make a run for it.”

Ronon pulled his buddy back and leaned against the tree to close his eyes. “Relax, she’s probably going to hunt. Not good to be around something like that – girlfriend or not.”

He looked at Ronon and shook his head. “That’s gross.”

“It’s what you do when you’re a big cat and hungry. She’s doing what feels natural now. Be happy she kept her head to know who we are. You could have been that lunch she is looking for now,” he grinned and slapped him on the back.

He got worried when Ziva hadn’t returned half an hour later. “What if she fell off a cliff?” he asked Ronon and saw that in the distance, the gate engaged. “And let’s hope that’s Rodney.”

As John and Ronon went to the gate, Ziva had indeed made her kill and ate – reluctantly. There was a deer like animal that took her awhile to catch and it was messy since she never done a thing like that before. Finding a stream on her way back to the lab site, she jumped in to clean off the blood the best she could and felt better at knowing she was clean again. Trotting back up the trail, she noticed her guys walking down the trail back to the gate. Turning, she quickly caught up to them, headbutting John in his backside.

“Get out of my ass, Ziva,” John laughed.

“You did not just say that.” Rodney said shocked.

“Shut up Rodney,” he replied glaring at him. “What did you find out?” he asked as Ziva came around to sniff up McKay and Teyla.

“Well, there’s a tiny mention in Janus’ diary about this place,” Rodney started, “However, everything what’s in that place is far from being ancienty.”

“Ancienty?”

“Whatever,” Rodney shrugged. “It’s known that Janus liked to experiment so it’s quite possible that we can turn this back in a jiffy.”

Teyla looked over at John and sighed, shaking her head slightly. She was pleased to see that the large cat was clearly not dangerous to them and if it was Ziva as John believed, she knew very well that she was a danger to others if she could not control her new instincts.

John saw how Ziva yawned; he wasn’t familiar with cats but cats always became sluggish after food according to his ex-wife. “Had a big lunch, Ziva?”

Ziva would have shrugged if she could. Instead she plopped down along side the DHD to the stargate.

“Oh no, get your ass in gear, we’re heading back to the lab.” John bent down to poke her in the sides. “Come on.”

She let out a snort through her nose and got up, taking her time following the group back. Ziva didn’t try to get her hopes up that Rodney could change her back so quickly. When things like this happened, he generally had to take a couple days. When they reached the building, she plopped back down to take a nap outside the door. Hell if and when they found something, they could always come out and get her.

“Yep,” Rodney said, after fiddling around for 30 minutes. “I think that if we put the power back on, I can make sure she’ll turn back into her regular catty self.”

“Be nice, Rodney,” John warned.

He looked up at him confused and babbled something before, “But I was being nice…” Returning to work he managed to get the power back up. “Huh, good,” he said to himself and started working on the terminal that Ziva had touched.

“And after she’s back to normal, this place needs to be destroyed,” John said, fiddling some C4 out of his vest pockets.

“Wait what?” Rodney stammered.

“I don’t want any other accidents to happen,” John said. “What if next time, it’s not reversible?”

He shook his head. “We can’t destroy it! What if there are answers in this database? Like the cure to cancer or – or – how to make ZedPMs?! Give us time to check it out! It shouldn’t be destroyed because your girlfriend’s curiosity kill the cat!” Rodney realized what he said and looked apologetic. “Sorry – bad choice of words. But she shouldn’t have touched that crystal!”

John knew Rodney was right. “Fine, only if you can assure me that nobody else will be turned into an animal!”

He laughed and quickly frowned. “You know I can’t do that! Look, as long as no one else touches anything, we’ll be fine. Just let me work! It’s going to take awhile because I need to compare and translate all the information. This is a really obscure dialect and it umm…”

“What?”

“Well,” Rodney chuckled nervously. “It might take a day…or three. Seriously Sheppard, there is no way I’m going to be able to crack this today.”

“Well I’m not going to take her back to Atlantis, because I don’t want her to be locked up like some caged ani… criminal because she’d attack certain people that she has issues with,” John said. “So you better hurry it up.”

Thankful that John had brought up that particular concern, Teyla spoke before Rodney said something that would really get their friend going that would wake Ziva. “Actually John? We informed Colonel Carter of the situation. She agreed that as long as you keep Ziva, and I quote, on a short leash, she is welcome back. She did not want to abandon her because of a mishap like this. I did not understand what she meant though.”

“Oh… well that’s a good thing then, I suppose.” he said wearily and made his way over to Ziva. He sat down next to her in the sand and softly caressed her head. “Wakey wakey.”

Ziva pushed her paw out to stop him from trying to wake her. A low and very non threatening growl came out as she just rolled over to face the other way. At least she wasn’t snoring…

“See, that’s why I’m not really a cat person,” John chuckled. “Ziva, wake up.” he prodded her in her sides. “You shouldn’t have had such a big lunch.”

You should leave sleeping animals where they lay, she grumbled to herself and sat up sleepily. What do you want now? she asked, knowing he didn’t understand her and looked at him irritated.

“Can you promise me that you can behave yourself when we’re on Atlantis? McKay needs at least three days to sort this stuff out and I don’t want us to camp out here,” John said, “And if you do, I’m going to make little notes you can point to to communicate with me on a basic level because I have no idea what’s going on in your head.”

Ziva yawned as a response and continued to stare at him bored.

“You’ll have our bed all to yourself because I probably won’t fit on it,” he shrugged and got up.

Well that is unnecessary, she thought. I could sleep on the floor perfectly well right now. She sat up on her hind quarters and glanced back into the building, trying to ask who was there now.

“Still just McKay, Ronon and Teyla in there,” John replied, “But once we get back to Atlantis, a science team will come over to help out McKay… or maybe get in his way, I don’t know.”

Whatever, Ziva said to herself that came out like snort. She got up and started heading the path back down to the gate. She was more than happy to be heading home, regardless of her present condition.

“Ronon, Teyla, I’ll be taking Ziva back to Atlantis,” he said into his radio before following Ziva. “Once we’re there, I’ll send the science team back, can you wait for them at the gate?”

“Sure colonel, good luck.” Teyla’s voice sounded.

“Ziva,” he said, “As far as I could understand from Teyla earlier, you’re not going to be locked up for the time being,” he started, “But you have to stay with me at all times, unless… well you need to… oh crap, do we have to make you a litter box now?”

The growl she gave was not quite friendly. How could she tell him to just let her out on an empty pier? Did he not think she already thought of that? Plus she hoped that the kitchen was well stocked. Not like there was amble amount of game to hunt there. Unless Rodney came back saying she was stuck that way…

“Or maybe I can let you out on a pier or one of the empty corridors… we’ll just have to see I guess…” he ruffled his hair in thought. Once they were at the gate, he dialled Atlantis. “Atlantis, this is Sheppard. I’m coming through with Ziva.”

“Received,” came through. It was Chuck, Ziva could tell. “Is she – tame?” he asked, confirming for Carter.

“Ziva’s Ziva, Chuck,” John replied. “Though very bored and annoyed because I woke her up from her nap.”

“Aye, come on through Colonel,” Carter said.

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