So um, this happened when I sat down to write a new chapter of Dawn. I hope you guys love it as much as I do! Thank you a millionty-billionty times to the Mecha for helping me edit and all that jazz. Xo- review?
She's gone. She's gone and his world stops spinning for one blinding, electrifyingly painful moment. Tony can't fully process the fact that in the end it was the water she loved so much that took her. He thinks about the night he met her and watching her swim lap after lap in the hotel pool. Did she think about him, at the end? Was she still so wildly angry and hurt, so betrayed and so, so vulnerable? He hoped not. It hurt to think that he never got to tell her all the little things that he is pretty sure means he loves her.
She is gone. She is here, but she has disappeared. All her strength and fire and dignity have been stripped away, quite literally. She is tired, oh so tired. Sometimes, when the men come, she leaves her body and watches from above. She watches how they hold her down and pull her hair and kick her already broken body. They call her names and spit in her face, but she ceases to feel any of it. Only when her aching face is pushed into the dirt and she tastes her own coppery blood does she remember she is so painfully alive. She secretly wishes for Tony to find her, to scoop her off the floor and hold her in his strong arms. She wishes for Gibbs to push back her matted hair and for Abby and McGee to hold her hand and for Ducky's calm, lilting voice in the din.
She hates herself for allowing such fantasies. She does not deserve their sympathy- she burned that bridge on the hot tarmac in Tel Aviv with her fathers eyes glinting in the sunlight- I told you so.
She visits him in his dreams. Sometimes her hair is long and wet and filled with seaweed, her face blue and bloated. Other times she is just as he remembers her, dangerous and angry and beautiful.
"I am not gone," she whispers. "Do not forget about me." she begs.
"I won't," he promises Dream-Ziva, and then she's gone.
He'd be the first one to tell you that he thinks ghosts aren't real, and that voodoo and signs are a pile of absolute crap, but he can't help but indulge the nagging feeling in his gut that something is not right. He has to avenge her death- he knows she would do the same. He throws himself into the search. It is his lifeboat in a sea of grief.
She is hot and cold all at once and her stomach is cramping and she bleeds into the dirt, pathetic and feverish. Somewhere in the dull recesses of her mind she knows what this is, that she needs a doctor, and that the longer it goes on the more damage that is done. She cries then- cries for the boots and the violence and for Michael and for Ari and Tali. She cries for this baby, for the fact that she has to cry for it, cries for Tony and for all the lives she's taken. She prays for death.
It is hot in the hellhole that is Saleem's camp. He desperately wants a glass of ice water and a cool shower and to sleep in his own bed, but his big fat mouth won't stop blabbering, and for a moment he has the sinking feeling that maybe they won't get out of this, but then Saleem drags a thin, stumbling figure in with him and his heart starts racing. It couldn't be, he thinks, but the sack is lifted and there she is, all hollow-cheeked and dull-eyed. And he says it then, when she asks, her voice hoarse- couldn't live without you, I guess.
And before he knows it they are dragging her out. He can feel her ribs protruding from under her filthy shirt. She is weightless. A few months ago, before everything, they'd been in the gym and she'd stepped on the scale. He'd peeked, juvenile and curious- 108. His stomach turns because he knows she's down to the double digits.
She sits stiffly on the plane, eyes to the ground, wringing her hands back and forth, back and forth. He wants to go to her, but Gibbs stops him with a hand to the shoulder.
"Not yet," He'd whispered.
Dehydration. Malnutrition. Second and third degree burns, bruises, five broken ribs, healing fractures to her jaw and nose. Deeply bruised kidneys and infections. Severe, irreversible damage to her fallopian tubes and uterine wall. It is all meaningless. She can't bring herself to care, just like her father did not care enough to find her, how he left her alone to die. She is still gone.
She is here. She is a shadow, but she is here. Ziva David is alive, and Tony imagines a thousand moments to come. Moments of joy and of anger and sadness and endless summer days. He thinks, again, of that first night, on the steps of that hotel, how new and foreign it all was. How he wanted to sweep her off her feet, and how he held back. How reserved, how fierce and how young she was. How young he was, how naïve and how lonely they both were. He makes a plan, bottles it away, and steps into her room. The sun is shining, and she is here.