Oh my god, I am so sorry I ditched you guys. I haven't even watched an episode of NCIS in at least a month...but I felt the urge to write this fic again, and so maybe - as I don't think it's going to be very long - I will actually finish it by the end of the month. Thanks for the reviews!


The shower had not helped. Nor was the tea, or the cup of soup from the deli a few blocks up from the hospital.

At least she had her own clothes, Ziva had to concede, sipping listlessly at her cooling tea. It was a small comfort to be able to wear her own loose, clean smelling clothing in place of the filthy rags that had been alternately ripped off and shakily pulled back on over the past four months.

It was nearing evening and though her numerous medical examinations were over, Ziva still unsettled, right down to her bones. It had mildly surprised her how smoothly it had all gone relatively, that was. The burn of humiliation and failure was still simmering, and it had been since the first viewing of her battered, broken body in autopsy hours ago. Being examined by the poker-faced doctor and nurses was only marginally better; at least she'd never have to see them again. They performed the awkward ultrasound, ascertaining no fatal internal injuries, nor any pregnancy Ziva had tried to avoid this thought entirely, eyes shut as they smoothed cold goop over her flat stomach and stood in silence, staring at the screen.

That was almost three hours ago. Since, Ziva had had the aforementioned shower and soup, and was sitting silently on Gibbs' old couch, staring at the sun playing against the wall opposite. She was not alone in the house, but the cavalry that had accompanied her back from the hospital consisting of Tony, Gibbs, and an oddly quiet Abby had dispersed; Tony and Abby for their respective apartments and Gibbs to the upstairs, where Ziva could hear him creaking around, making up the bed and scrounging up towels. It was a strange thing to imagine, that their tough-as-nails boss could tuck a hospital corner, and the thought brought a not-quite smirk to Ziva's chapped lips.

They were all so...so glad to see her, although it was as if someone had died: the atmosphere was dark and gloomy; Abby had, for once, looked the part of a depressive goth, and Tony had been...reluctant to leave her side, to say the least. Ziva would not be surprised if Gibbs had ended up threatening him with bodily harm should he not return home for his own shower and nap, which, she could tell, he sorely needed.

''Upstairs is ready for you,'' came the quiet voice from the foot of the stairs, and Ziva nearly sloshed her tea across her lap. ''Left your bag on the bed.''

''Thank you,'' she returned just as softly, cupping her mug with both hands and standing up, working hard to suppress the wince this action brought on. ''I think I will sleep now.''

Or, rather, try. Sleeping was almost as foreign a concept as hot showers and actual beds were at this point. She'd have to see how it went, although she couldn't imagine it ending very well.

Gibbs nodded, moving away from the stairs, although he wasn't breaking her gaze. To onlookers it would have appeared strange, as most things that Ziva shared with her boss would have. It was hard to say which of the two had the better poker face; Ziva would, of course, insist on herself while Gibbs would cite the years of life experience he had on Ziva as proof that his was, in fact, superior. Either way they were essentially staring each other down, expressionlessly, but Ziva was the first to break the gaze.

''Thank you, Gibbs.'' sighing, she looked towards her lukewarm tea. ''I I know it must have been...difficult. The mission. You brought me back.''

Back from hell, back to somewhere she never dreamed she'd see again, to people whose faces she dared not hope to gaze upon again. It was inadequate, just a simple 'thank you', because once again, this team had moved heaven and earth to help her, and that was a strange enough feeling in itself the knowledge that they had once again done the impossible, all for her.

''You never have to thank me, Ziva.'' Gibbs was not smiling, but nor was he frowning. He had fallen somewhere between the two, his facial muscles relaxed, and his expression fond. ''I'd do it again tomorrow. We all would.''

Oh, the lack of sleep was making her emotional. Old Ziva never would have let the tears enter her eyes, but her mind was not what it used to be just months previously. Swallowing, Ziva nodded, directing her gaze somewhere over Gibbs' shoulder, and hoping that the lump in her throat would pass.

''Get some sleep. Don't get up until...'' Gibbs glanced over at the clock in the living room, ''oh six hundred, at least. I want a full night's rest for you.''

That was more like it. Orders Ziva could deal with, could understand, and so she straightened her spine and nodded. ''Yes, Gibbs.''

''You know where the bathroom is. Holler if you need anything.''

''Goodnight, Gibbs.''

''Sleep tight, Ziver.''

Ziva let herself get to her bedroom door before a tear slipped out, followed by another, and then a hundred more, flowing quietly as she changed, brushed her teeth, and curled into the bed. The smell that surrounded her was both jarringly unfamiliar after months of prison camp and overwhelmingly comforting. It took Ziva a moment to put it all together: the detergent Gibbs used on the bedding, the subtle spice of Tony's deodorant from the t-shirt she'd grabbed out of her bag (one she had had of his for quite a while now, though she'd never tell anyone), and the sweetness of her own shampoo on her drying, soft hair.

Her head hurt, and so did her stomach. Her mind was going insane inside of her skull, but God, it was good to be home.