Chapter 8 - Back To Normality

Slowly, Ziva was getting used to the silence. The silence in the car when they drove to Tony's house. The silence in the apartment when they had finally arrived. They didn't even change a word when Tony offered her something to drink. Normally, she would have liked communicating without words. It was good to have partners, friends, who understood you without the need to say anything. But this time, the silence wasn't good or comfortable. It was only the appalled, stunned loss of words, of their voice in some way.

They sat on his couch for half an eternity, staring into the void her own souls and hearts were feeling right now, hearing nothing around them, not even seeing anything. Lost in thoughts, they were somewhere between the moment when they had stepped into the Diner, and the funeral service.

Everything was different now, but they knew that the new director wouldn't give them the chance to get accustomed to the situation, and the fact that their team was falling apart. Maybe they could manage to avoid Ziva getting sent back to Israel. But soon Ducky was going to go on pension and McGee would get a promotion. And Abby... not that Abby wasn't already devastated; Vance would force her to dress normal, to act normal, and to work normal. Whatever normal meant. He would destroy her. And no one would be able to do anything against it.

Ziva, for her part, couldn't decide if she liked or hated the idea of returning home. She loved her homeland, but now that she had found a home and friends here, she didn't want to go. Home is where the heart is, that's what Jenny once had said to her. Jenny. Another reason to stay. She couldn't just leave her friends behind. She needed them, and she knew they needed her. They needed each other to cope with what had happened. She couldn't just let Tony blame himself for what had happened, and she couldn't let Abby lose... herself.

And Gibbs... She owed it to him to take care of his team. She had learned so much from him and she knew that without him, she would have had returned to Israel a long time ago, because she wouldn't have been able to find a place within the team and this country. It had been Jenny who had made her member of the team, but it had been Gibbs who had finally invited her to be part of the family.

A family she had learned to love, maybe even more than her own.

When she looked beside her, she discovered that Tony had fallen asleep. He looked tired and exhausted, in more than one way. She wanted to do something for him, anything; she wanted to take at least a part of the weight off his shoulders. But then, she felt helpless, knowing that she could only see him through when he had to deal with his burden. Carefully she laid a blanket over him and turned to leave when his hand caught hers.

"Please, stay," he whispered, with his eyes still closed. She hesitated for a moment, but then sat down beside him again, leaned against him, and with her head on his shoulder and her hand entwined with his, she, too, closed her eyes. Together, they fell into a dreamless slumber.

---

"Are you tired?"

"A bit. Doesn't mean I can't..."

"Jethro," Jen warned, looking sternly at him, "you'll stay in bed. Have I made myself clear? And I'll make you some tea."

"Why can't I just sit on the couch? The fireplace will do me good," he tried, and put on his most convincing expression.

"Nope, you'll stay here, at least for today, or more for tonight."

"And what about me and showering? I'm not fit for good society now!" he complained. Not to talk of the fact that the infusion with saline solution he probably had gotten was taking effect now. Not that he was going to mention it. Not yet.

The red-haired woman only shook her head.

"Good society? Jethro, we're out in the no-where..."

"You are here. And you are the Director."

"Not anymore," she replied quietly, ignoring the lump in her throat, before continuing, "Alright, Jethro, suggestion: you'll be a good patient," she suppressed a grin when she heard him groan at her words, "and I'll go downstairs and take a shower. After that, I'll try to figure out how to get you clean without getting you hurt even more."

It wasn't that he had any choice. So he just agreed, but not without showing her how discontented he was. Unfortunately for him, her only response was a giggle when she left the room. She wanted to get him something to drink first before she would take the shower. But when she came back around ten minutes later with the teapot, he was fast asleep.

Well, guess I can take a bath then, she mused and smiled slightly. She wouldn't wake him; she knew he needed the rest. The shower or whatever they would do to wash him was nothing that would run away.

She sat down the tea onto the nightstand, and left on tiptoes.

Some minutes later, she glided into the bathtub - and soon she felt alive again. Finally, she could wash away the last days, the events in the Diner, the fact that she and Jethro had nearly died. That she had nearly lost him. And that they were now in Europe again, for a yet unknown undercover assignment. They had been practically thrown into an unfamiliar country, into unfamiliar surroundings; all strange, all... cold.

Fortunately, her bath was anything but cold. It helped her to push away the unpleasant thoughts for now and just relax. She knew there were hard times to come, but she didn't want to think about it at the moment.

While Jen was lost in her wellness bubble bath, Jethro had only taken a little nap; he had decided to close his eyes for a few minutes till Jen would be back with the tea and hadn't intended to fall asleep, but his body had had other plans. When he woke up half an hour later, he noticed the teapot and a cup already standing on his nightstand. Disappointed he realized that he had missed Jen coming back - he had hoped to talk her into taking him downstairs with her.

Besides, he now felt the strong need to follow the call of nature. Forbidden or not, he simply had to get up to go and find the bathroom. Staying in bed and waiting was out of question since he felt like he was going to burst at every minute. And from what Jenny had said, he guessed that he would find his destination downstairs.

While Jethro was carefully walking downstairs, Jenny was completely lost to the sensations the bath was giving her. The perfect form of the bathtub that seemed to cradle her body; the foam that was caressing her skin; the few candles that were enriched with perfume oils, their sweet scent carrying away her mind and senses. She wanted to hold this moment and never let it go again.

She hadn't counted on Jethro, who suddenly practically stumbled into the room, only to stop dead in his tracks when he realized in which situation he was. They looked at each other for endless moments, before Jethro found his voice again.

"Needed to use the bathroom," he explained still paralyzed, eyes wide. Not that he hadn't seen her naked before - though he couldn't see much due to all the foam - but he had never before gotten the chance to get a picture of her lounging in the bathtub.

"There's... a restroom... upstairs, next... to your... room," she stuttered, though she had no idea what made her feel like a schoolgirl that had just been caught naked by a boy. The boy she adored.

He was gone before she could give it any further thought. She heard him walking upstairs again, as she heard him wandering from one room to another up there. She sighed and let herself fall back into the water after she had sat up a bit when he had come in.

That was going to be an interesting time shouldn't they manage to deal with this unresolved tension between them...

---

An hour later, Jenny still hadn't come to his room again. He had returned to bed and waited, but she had never showed up. He wasn't stupid, he knew that there was this unspoken attraction; it had always been there. The situation an hour ago hadn't made it much better. But he also knew that now wasn't the best time to deal with it, or maybe solve it.

He sighed. However, he needed to see her. And so he got up, took a deep breath - as far as it was possible with his injury - and opened his room's door.

When he stepped out of his room, he spotted her immediately. She was standing in front of one of the windows of the living room, wrapped up in a bathrobe that was far too big for her. Silently he watched her from the gallery. Had the sun been shining only around half an hour ago, the outside world was grey now, and it was raining. Lost in thoughts Jen seemed to be hypnotized by the little droplets hitting the window glass.

Carefully he walked down the stairs and stepped beside her. She acknowledged him with a short glance.

"You should be in bed."

"What are you thinking about?" he responded, ignoring her words.

"The team. I can't imagine how it is for them, thinking that we are dead. I wish I could tell them that we are still alive."

"We'll find a way to contact them, trust me," he assured her, although he had barely any idea how to keep the promise.

"How, Jethro? We have no mobile and no computer. The house is observed and we are not allowed to leave it yet. We don't even have money. Tell me if you have an idea what else we could do and I'll try it. But I don't think that there's any way to contact them at the moment." She seemed to be very desperate, something he wasn't used to with her. As long as he had known her, she had never lost hope. But he understood her well – their own people had imprisoned them. They were in a strange country, a strange house and the people who meant most to them thought they were dead.

"We will find a way," he repeated, with a strong voice that somehow made her feel better; more confident. "I will not let them think that we're dead." It was the fierceness in his words that led her to believe him. She wanted to believe it. But she also knew that at the moment, their chances were quite bad.

"Let not talk about it now. It was a hard day - or maybe a few hard days," she sighed; she had lost her sense of time due to the traveling through the time zones, "let's go to bed."

"Haven't heard those words in a while," he tried a joke and she smiled slightly, but said nothing. Instead, she took his arm and helped him walk upstairs and back to his room.

.

TBC


I'm afraid that this will be definitely the last chapter in a very long time. I just discovered that Chapter 8 was nearly finished, so I did my best to add what was missing. But even when writing these few lines I realized that it has gotten very hard to write anything for NCIS. I don't say that this story will get an "unfinished & given up", but I also can't promise that I will continue writing anytime soon.

I'm sorry :( But thanks for all your reviews and support.