If you read, please be polite and review. Let me know what you think… Is there anything in particular you'd like to see happen in the upcoming chapters? Any helpful ideas? Let me know!

X

She was so sick of the damn hospital. Ziva hated hospitals. They reminded her of death and bombings and loss...they smelled of antiseptic from people trying to make clean, things that were so dirty. That's a good way to describe her situation, she thought; she had been scrubbed, swiped, sanitized and necessary areas had been sterilized… yet she still felt so goddamn dirty. She wishes they could have antisepticised her insides. Scrubbed them away…those men who had done this to her. But they didn't because they can't, and she knows that. She knows that even though no one has said it to her yet, she will feel like this for a long time…like she can't get clean, no matter how hard or long she tries.

Ziva was glad to be going home this afternoon. Very glad. If there was one thing that she hated more than anything, it was being helpless and dependant on others…in any way. Ever since she was a young child, she had been fiercely independent. She had never let herself really love, before Tony that is.

Huh. Tony… she loved him so much. So much more than she ever fathomed she would, or even could for that matter. It was all going so well…It all felt right, for once in her life, she felt whole; and then this happened and it feels like all that has been ripped away. She feels hollow. When those men raped her, they ripped something out of her. She does not know what. Maybe it was her heart or her soul, or maybe it was her pride and dignity. Maybe it was all of the above.

She still couldn't quite wrap her head around it all yet. It still seemed like a bad dream, she thinks; one that she keeps expecting to wake up from…but she never does.

One thing that she was sure of, one thing she knew for sure was that she felt safe with Tony; she wanted him around because she loved him. She would love him no matter what…she just did not understand how he could love her after all this, how he could even stand to look at her.

X

Tony arrived to pick her up at the hospital, almost on time. Her doctor and Tony both insisted that she take a wheelchair out to the car. She scowled and finally complied with much protest. She hated all this shit. She hated that all everyone did was try to help her…and she hated even more, that she needed help. Especially Tony's. She needed him more than anything, even if she hadn't told him that. But she felt like she did not deserve his help or his love. She had half expected him to be disgusted with her and walk away from…from all this, not knowing how to deal. But he didn't and he was dealing. She didn't know how, but he was… and she was so thankful for that. She decided that she needed to let him know how much she appreciated him sticking with her; later, that is. Ziva wasn't good at emotions… she wondered what she should say to him.

X

On the drive back to her apartment, they were both silent. She studied his face inconspicuously. He looked like he was somewhere else, like he was replaying something in his head…something that was making him angry, because he was clenching his jaw and setting his face, like he always did when something upset or angered him. She wondered what he was thinking about that was troubling him so. She wondered if he was angry at her for letting this happen. She wondered where her own cocky, confident attitude had gone. It seemed to be missing since that night. She made a mental note to ask him about what was going on in his head, later that evening.

X

When they finally arrived, he helped her up the stairs, into her apartment and onto her couch before plopping down close to her. She flinched when he put his hand on her leg out of habit and comfort.

"I am sorry. I do not know why…" she started to try and explain her body's response to his innocent touch.

"It's ok Ziva, I should have remembered. Dr. Bransen said to expect that." Tony told her.

"What?!" Ziva snapped at him. "You two have been talking about me?" She asked angrily.

"Ziva, calm down, she was just trying to help, I just needed to know what to expect. I've never dealt with anything like this…at least, not when it's someone I…love." He said, and then looked up to meet her eyes

"I love you too Tony… so much." She told him in a shaky voice, all her anger having disappeared at his words.

He smiled.

X

After dinner, they once again returned to her couch. They sat in silence for a moment before she spoke.

"Have you found out anything about who… did this? Anything?" she asked hopefully.

She noticed that at her question, the look that he had had in the car earlier that day, had returned.

"What is wrong Tony? What are you not telling me? You had the same look on your face earlier today…" she said.

"You noticed that?" He asked, surprised.

"I notice everything about you Tony…" she whispered.

"I love you Ziva." He told her in return.

"And I love you."

"Ziva… we did find some things, we got a lead, hits on the DNA samples… and then before I left HQ to pick you up yesterday, we got a video tape in the mail. It was addressed to me…" he started to tell her sadly.

She didn't need this on top of everything else. Jesus. What was he supposed to say? How could he tell her that her violent rape had been video taped and then viewed by him, her boss and co-workers?