The Sound of Rain
Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine; I've just borrowed them
Genres: Hurt/Comfort, Angst, Friendship
Warnings: SPOILERS for Judgement Day
Summary: It had been a few hours since Vance had broken the bad news to the team, and Tim would rather not think about it. Post-Judgement Day. McGiva.
Tim listened to the rain as it pattered against the moonlit window of his apartment. He sighed; it was great timing in actual fact, the rain matched his mood perfectly. Dark, dreary and depressed, that could easily sum up what Tim was feeling. It was silent, the only noise being the rhythmic dripping of the rain on his windowsill. And this allowed Tim time to think, but if he was honest with himself, he would rather not think at all and instead, just forget.
It had been a few hours since Vance had broken the bad news to the team, and Tim would rather not think about the fact that the team, his friends, were being broken and split into pieces.
Tony was being transferred to the USS Ronald Reagan as an Agent Afloat. Tim supposed that he should be happy for Tony, getting a promotion and all, but instead, all he felt was dismay. He would miss Tony's chiding jibes and his annoying attitude. Tim couldn't bring himself to imagine what it would be like without the playboy agent irritating him for hours on end. Actually, Tim finally admitted to himself, he would just miss Tony himself, plain and simple.
He paused as he listened to the rain. It was not getting any heavier, but it wasn't letting up. The story of my life, Tim mused. The worst of the rain was over, but the constant reminder was still there, pattering against the window, or gnawing away at the back of his mind. Tim's thoughts drifted to Ziva as watched the raindrops fall.
Ziva. Oh, Ziva. She was being sent back to Mossad in Israel and this perhaps hurt more than Tim cared to admit. Tim remembered Ziva's arrival so soon after Kate, and the reluctance of the team to accept her. But he had seen something in her, something beneath the tough exterior that made him want to reach out. He could see, although she never showed it, that she was just as vulnerable as the rest of them, perhaps more. She hid it, she hid it so well, but sometimes, Tim just wanted to gather her in his arms and tell her that everything was okay, that there were still beautiful things left in the world, and it wasn't just a world full of hurt and anger and death.
Tim laughed bitterly. It wasn't as if the past few days, with the Director's death and all (he still couldn't bring himself to call Vance 'Director'), had exactly confirmed this sentiment. If anything, it had cemented the idea that world was full of hurt and anger and death. It was a cliché really, but the Director – Jenny – was too young to die. Another life ripped away in their prime, just like Kate and Paula and Chris before her. He often wondered why exactly he did this job, why did any of them do this job, but then Tim would realise that it was so their families, and their children, and their children's children could exist in a world with a little less hurt and anger and death. They were protectors.
And he himself was being reassigned to cybercrimes. Tim knew he should be happy about this. Finally he was going somewhere where his talents and expertise would be appreciated, but yet, this did not excite him, only depressed him even more. Sure, it was still in the same compound, the same Navy yard, but it wouldn't be the same. Ever. It was like something was missing, and he hadn't felt like that since he had joined Gibbs' team those years ago.
For those first weeks permanently assigned to Gibbs' team, under Tony and Kate's taunts, Tim had wished he had taken the job with cybercrimes. Yes, he had been offered a cybercrimes position back then (not that he'd told anyone), but had declined it. Tim had often wondered if he made the right choice and some days, he almost regretted not taking it. But then he'd remember why he'd taken the field agent position . . . He wanted to protect. Tim had believed that it just wasn't enough for him to be tracking suspects via email and electronic trails, but instead he needed to be out in the field, seeing the difference that he made, and not hearing it via the grapevine.
But it was times like these, when the Director was dead and the rain was falling, when he couldn't see the point of being a field agent, the point of being trained to protect. After all, it hadn't helped the Director, the head of NCIS. If she could be gunned down so easily, what hope did the rest of them have? Yes, they were protectors of the world, but who was there to protect them? To protect them from the killers, terrorists, bombers, enemies. All they had was each other, a team bonded by a common goal, by a common heart, but now Tim had none of this. No team. No bond. No common heart. He had no one to protect him.
A knock at his door jolted Tim from his thoughts, ones that he wished he'd never had to think. He sighed as he stood and ambled over to the door of his apartment. Tim dearly hoped that is was a salesperson to whom he could tell exactly where to stick their produces and perhaps relieve some of the tension that flowed through his body.
He paused before opening the door, getting ready to be so uncharacteristically like himself. Tim twisted the door handle and wretched open the door, the first bitter word on his lips. But then he faltered. Before him was not a salesperson, but instead a shivering and dripping wet Israeli.
"Ziva?" Tim repeated, mouth open with the silent retort that never came. He blinked twice and realised that she was wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and crop top. And she was shivering. Violently.
"Oh, my God, Ziva. You're freezing. What on earth are you doing outside when the weather's like this? What were you thinking?" He knew he was babbling like a mother hen as he wrapped his arms around Ziva's shoulders and ushered the woman into his apartment.
She didn't reply and instead looked blankly at his face. Tim shook his head. "You need to get dry," he muttered, more to himself than Ziva. It wasn't a particularly cold night, but being drenched by rain was not the best way to avoid catching a bug, or freezing to death.
Tim hurried into his bedroom and through to his bathroom. He grabbed the nearest towels and rushed out to where Ziva still stood, the same expression on her face.
"Here," Tim said, draping one of the towels around her shoulders and forcing the other one around her waist. When she didn't seem inclined to hold on to it, Tim pulled her close to him as he tucked the end into the back of the towel.
He made a move to step back from Ziva, but found that her arms had encircled his body and her face buried in his shoulder.
"Uh, Ziva?" Tim felt and looked awkward. He was at a loss at what to do. Never had he seen Ziva like this. "Um, Ziva, what are you doing?" Tim asked, slightly more forcefully than he had meant. This seemed to snap Ziva out of her trace-like state and she immediately stumbled away from him.
"McGee?" She looked at him as if she was seeing him for the first. "I . . ." She faltered as she blushed, another first. "I-I will go." She looked down to the floor, embarrassed at the show of emotion. Ziva turned, and the towel fell off her shoulders.
She made a move to exit the apartment, but swayed dangerously on the spot. Tim immediately reached for her and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"You aren't going anywhere, Ziva," Tim said firmly, once again pulling her against him and guiding her into his bedroom.
Ziva didn't resist as Tim forced Ziva onto this bed, propping the pillows behind her head. Tim pulled the covers over her frozen body and sat down on the edge of the bed.
"What did you think you were doing, Ziva?" he asked gently. "It's pouring and you're wearing nothing more than, well, nothing."
Ziva was silent for a moment, and then said quietly, "I was running."
"I kinda figured that," Tim confirmed. "But why on earth did you choose during the middle of a downpour."
She shrugged. "I just felt like it, I guess."
Tim shook his head. "You're a silly woman, you know," Tim murmured affectionately. Then he said louder, "Would you like a shower? I can find you something to change into. You'll be much warmer . . ."
"I do not want to intrude, McGee," Ziva shivered. "I am sure you have better things to do . . ."
Tim looked at her incredulously. "Do you really think you're intruding? God, Ziva, you're half dead. That's anything but intruding," he nearly snapped. He softened. "Ziva, please . . ."
Ziva hesitated, and then said, "If I am not intruding, then yes, I would like that very much. Thank you."
Tim nodded. "Good. Here, I'll help you." He pulled the covers off Ziva and held out a hand. She took it with a small smile and rose from the bed. Tim, still holding her hand, led her to his ensuite bathroom.
He let go of her hand as he said, slightly embarrassed, "You'll be okay by yourself?" He blushed. "I mean . . ."
Ziva chuckled weakly. "I will be fine, McGee. I do not think I am at the stage where I need a sponge bath."
"Yes, right, of course not," Tim mumbled, blushing. "I'll-I'll leave you to it. There are towels in that cupboard." He pointed. "And I'll find you some clothes, okay?"
"Yes, thank you," Ziva thanked again, and with another glance at the soggy woman, Tim exited the bathroom and shuffled over to his drawers to see if he could find anything suitable for Ziva to wear.
It was still raining when Ziva emerged from the bathroom, dressed in nothing but a towel. Tim looked up, and faltered. Ziva's hair was matted against her head, and a few stray drops glistened across her shoulders, but Tim though she looked gorgeous. This was Ziva at her most vulnerable, no clothes, no weapons, no nothing. Just Ziva, and Tim could almost see the innocent little girl still alive inside her. Almost.
"Enjoying the view, McGee," she smirked, sounding more like her normal self.
Tim blushed a dark shade of red and diverted his eyes. Ziva laughed softly.
"I-I found you some clothes," he stuttered, holding out a grey MIT sweatshirt and a pair of track pants that belonged to Sarah. He kept his head firmly turned away from her.
"Thank you." Ziva accepted the clothes and then waited patiently.
"What?" Tim raised his eyes to look at Ziva, who had a small smile on her face.
"Are you planning on watching me get changed, McGee?" she asked coyly.
"What?" Tim spluttered. "N-no, of course not. No!" He looked horrified that he hadn't thought of leaving the clothes out for Ziva and vacating the room. "I-I'll go." He shot up off his bed and raced for the door, stumbling over his feet as he did so.
"I'll be . . . out here," Tim said weakly and he darted out the room and pulled the door closed him a loud bang, leaving Ziva to get changed in peace.
A few minutes later, the door to his bedroom opened and Ziva stepped out dressed in Sarah's track pants and his MIT sweatshirt, which was way too big for her. Tim grinned. Ziva did look rather adorable with her matted hair clinging limply to the top of the oversized sweatshirt.
"It is a bit big," Ziva commented, turning.
Tim shrugged. "I'm larger than you." He walked over to Ziva. "I made us some hot chocolate." Tim held up two mugs.
Ziva smiled softly, but said nothing as Tim handed her the bright pink mug. She took one look at the mug, then commented, "It is pink, McGee."
"Well, yeah, it's Sarah's," Tim replied hastily and Ziva responded with a raised eyebrow. Tim blushed.
"I see." Tim looked at Ziva as she said this, and saw that the mug was shaking precariously in her hands.
"Here." Tim all but pulled the pink mug from Ziva's hands, earning himself a glare from the Mossad officer. "It's, uh, too hot," he tried to cover up lamely. He could see Ziva was embarrassed, so instead tried to turn the attention on to himself. "We wouldn't want you burning your mouth or anything," he said with fake cheerfulness.
Ziva glared at him, a faint blush to her cheeks. "Stop treating me as if I am a child, McGee. I am not a child."
"I know you're not," Tim replied calmly as he put the mugs down on his computer desk. "But you've had a huge shock; we've all had huge shock. It's nothing to be embarrassed about."
"I am not embarrassed," Ziva huffed. "And I am fine. It is not the first time I have experienced death."
This time, it was Tim's turn to glare. "Fine? You are hardly fine, Ziva," he snapped. "You were running in the pouring rain and turned up here half-drowned. What might have happened if I wasn't home? Or you bypassed my house? We could have been picking you up off the pavement after you collapsed with exhaustion or hypothermia or whatever. We have had enough death today."
"I would have stopped before it got that far," Ziva muttered in reply, unable to meet Tim's glance.
"You sure about that?" Tim retorted, but then sighed and sat heavily on the floor, leaning against his computer desk.
"I would have," Ziva murmured, as if she was trying to convince herself as much as she trying to convince Tim.
Tim ran a hand through his hair. "Ziva, you don't have to keep it all bottled in." He looked resigned. "You can cry."
"Mossad Officers do not cry," Ziva replied haughtily.
Tim wrung his hands in annoyance. "Well, you are not Mossad here," he sniped. "You're NCIS."
"Not anymore, McGee," Ziva said coldly. "I am returning to Israel and Mossad. I am no longer part of NCIS."
Tim rubbed his eyes tiredly and said softly, "You'll always be part of NCIS, Ziva."
Ziva laughed bitterly. "I was only part of NCIS to start with because of Jenny. And now she is gone."
"So?!" Ziva exploded. "So?! If it were not for Jenny, I would never have been here. Gibbs certainly didn't want me here. Neither did Tony or Abby. I bet you didn't want me here either, taking over for your precious Caitlin."
"It was never like that," Tim yelled, just as angry. "Sure we were grieving for Kate, but you helped us return to normal. You helped us," he finished pathetically, trailing off. He sighed. "You are not just part of the team, Ziva, you are so much more." Tim had tears in his eyes, but he wiped them away.
Ziva's face lost all the anger and she slid down to meet Tim on the floor. "I am sorry, McGee," she said softly, placing a hand on Tim's arm. "I did not . . ."
"I know," Tim sighed. "Oh, I know." He used his other hand to clasp Ziva's one that was resting on his arm.
They were silent for a few minutes, frozen in that position, but then Ziva spoke in a small voice, "She is really gone, isn't she."
"Yeah, Ziva, she's gone," Tim confirmed softly.
"I know that." She paused. "But sometimes I wish this was all a dream."
"Me too," Tim agreed. "Me too."
"What am I meant to do, McGee?" Ziva asked, feeling the prickling of tears at the back of her eyelids. "I do not want to go back to Mossad. I want to stay here with NCIS. With Tony, Gibbs, Abby . . . with you . . ."
Tim shrugged. "I don't know. I suppose find a way to stay in the country." Suddenly, he grinned. "You could marry Tony."
Ziva shot him a glared, but it was an amused glare. "And what if I did not want to marry Tony?"
"Well, there's Gibbs or Ducky," Tim offered and Ziva laughed.
"Or you, McGee," Ziva added coyly. Tim blushed profusely and looked away. They fell back into their silence.
"You know, McGee," Ziva spoke up finally, sadness in her voice. "Jenny was the first person to show me that life was still worth it. Before I met Jen, I had become very disillusioned with life. I was Mossad, an expendable soldier that could easily be replaced."
"Surely it wasn't like that?" Tim looked incredulously, but Ziva only gave him a resigned look.
"But it was like that," she murmured. "The good ones never last. And I was one of the good ones." She smiled humourlessly. "I quite possibly could have been dead by now if I had not come to NCIS."
"Don't say that," Tim muttered. "Please, don't."
"It is reality," Ziva said bluntly and shrugged.
"Well, it's bad reality," Tim replied childishly.
"That is life, McGee," Ziva said bitterly. "Hopeless and worthless."
"There's still good things left."
Ziva rolled her eyes. "Is that so? It is not as though the past few days have exactly confirmed this." She raised her voice, and sounded borderline hysterical. "Jenny is dead, McGee! Gone! We are being split up and I am going back to Mossad where I probably won't survive to the New Year. How is that good?!"
"Ziva, please, calm down," Tim said calmly, slightly worried.
"Calm down?" Ziva glared daggers at Tim. "Why should I? Vance is ripping away the only good thing in my life. Without NCIS, I have nothing." She ripped her hand away from Tim's arm.
"You'll always have us, Ziva," Tim said firmly, trying to keep his voice level.
"Easier said than done, McGee," Ziva bit back. "I will be with Mossad, Tony will be on that ship, Gibbs will have a new team, and you will be in the computer division. Can you not see that?"
"Gibbs will fix it," Tim said in blind faith. "You'll see. He will."
"Gibbs is not the Wizard of Oz," Ziva snapped. "He cannot make everything better. Vance dislikes him. As if he would allow Gibbs to have his team back."
"Gibbs will find a way," Tim said determinately. "He has Abby and Ducky to help. There has to be a way," Tim trailed off sadly.
Ziva sighed and looked sad. "I am sorry for yelling, McGee." She paused. "It's just, I just miss Jenny. She was the first person to truly believe I could be more than an assassin."
"You still can be," Tim said quietly. "You are already so much more."
"It is just . . ." Ziva trailed off and leaned her head on Tim's shoulder. "I wish she wasn't dead," she mumbled like a child.
Tim reached over and started rubbing circles on her back. "I know, me too," he soothed and when Ziva didn't reply, he noticed that she was crying.
"Oh, Ziva," he sighed to himself and had to use a lot of his willpower to stop himself from crying as well. He pulled her close and stroked her hair, muttering nonsense words of comfort in her ear.
They stayed like this for a few minutes, before Ziva pulled away and rubbed her eyes. She looked embarrassed. "I am sorry," she blushed, looking at the mess she'd made of Tim's shirt. "I did not mean to get so . . ."
"It's okay, Ziva," Tim said firmly. "Do not apologise for grieving over a friend."
"But . . ." Tim shook his head.
Ziva paused for a moment, and then stood, still blushing. "I should go. I have wasted enough of your time already."
"You have not wasted any of my time." Tim stood as well. He looked at her shyly. "You don't have to, you know, go," he stumbled awkwardly. "It's late, and I . . . well, I'd rather not be on my own. Please?" He looked at her pleadingly.
"You have one bed, that is all," Ziva commented, eyes still red. "Where do you suppose I would sleep?"
Tim shrugged. "We are both grown adults. I am sure we can share a bed." He blushed again and looked away.
"Trying to get me into bed, McGee?" she smirked.
"Oh, what? God, no!" Tim replied, flustered.
Ziva grinned. "I was joking. You are much too much of a gentleman to take advantage of me."
Tim nodded, not trusting himself to say anything else, so Ziva said softly, "I would like that, Tim. It would be nice to have some company."
Tim smiled genuinely. "If you are sure."
"I am sure."
"Okay . . ." Tim paused awkwardly and shuffled on the spot.
Ziva laughed. "Come on, McGee." She took his hand and led him to the bedroom, their hot chocolate forgotten.
She ignored Tim's flustered look and reddened face as she pulled back the covers and slid under. She rolled her eyes. "I am not going to bite," she said softly.
"I know . . . it's just," Tim said awkwardly. "I am going to change." He grabbed some clothes off the dresser and disappeared into the bathroom, only to emerge a minute later wearing Harry Potter boxer shorts and a MIT t-shirt.
Ziva grinned at Tim's attire. "Nice," she commented, not even bothering to hide her smile. Tim looked a little embarrassed, but said nothing.
"Come on, then." Ziva patted the covers next to her. "I want to turn off the light."
Hesitating, Tim slid in next to Ziva and flicked off the lamp. He laid stiffly in his position, for how long he didn't know, and nearly jumped as Ziva curled herself into him.
"Uh, Ziva," he whispered, but received no reply. He could tell by her breathing that she was asleep. Tim sighed contently and unconsciously wrapped an arm around Ziva's waist, and settled into a deep sleep himself, finally able to avoid thinking about the events of the day.
And outside, the rain finally stopped.