Hi everyone, here's my new story. It doesn't have a time frame, and doesn't contain any major spoilers for any episodes. As a story it just kind of floats. I don't own anything, unfortunately :(
Slowly, she took another step further down the hallway. Her feet padded softly, and she took great care to make sure that her old sneakers didn't scuff against the carpet and make any sounds to give her away. Once this would have been an action that didn't require a second thought. It would have been something she'd have done in an instinctive action to keep herself to safe. Now, it was something she had to concentrate on, something that she remembered, but could no longer recall as a natural defence. Now, it was a part of her that had disappeared long ago. Every inch that she gained towards the door in question seemed like a year in her mind, and when she finally reached the door she stopped, taking a deep breath before closing her palm around the handle. Soundless, she pushed the door open, but only enough for her to look inside. She didn't want to go into the room.
The only sound that reached her ears was the steady sound of his snoring. She let out a silent sigh, relieved that he had finally fallen into unconsciousness. It had not been a powerful drug she had slipped into his dinner, but it would be hard to trace to the source. Of course, later, they would realise that it could have been no one but her, but for now, she only needed enough time to escape. Blame and punishment would come later, but she would be long gone by the time that she was discovered. It wouldn't be hard to realise where she was going or to find her, but it would give her time to get away and establish a safe place to stay. Here was not a safe place. Not for her, not for anyone. It was no longer just herself that she owed safety to, and no longer just herself that she needed to protect.
For a moment, she remained there, frozen to the spot as she watched him; his dark grey hair plastered against his forehead, creating a curtain over his eyes where his head was hung down, and a lining of stubble along his jaw. With the dark stubble that had not yet silvered like his hair, the colouring looked unbalanced; just like his mental state, she mused. This man had ruined her over the course of the past fifteen months. This man had taken the woman she had become and pushed her so far over the edge that she no longer recognised the woman she had become. This man had taken her from her friends, from her family, and back to her home country; and foolishly, she had returned willingly. She had boarded the plane, said a temporary goodbye to her friends in DC and returned to Israel. She had left, promising she would only be gone a few short weeks, just long enough to right the wrongs of the past, long enough to reform her bond with her father. She had arrived in Tel Aviv, unaware that the man she had come to see, her very own father, would keep her against her will.
It had started with terminating her position with NCIS. He had waited for the opportune moment, when she had boarded the plane in DC and would not be there to discover the conversation with the Director which would leave her permanently disbanded from her team at NCIS. He had greeted her at the airport, arriving in person rather than sending a car; a good gesture, in hindsight too attentive for his usual self. He had his housekeepers set up a room for her, take her bag, just the one, upstairs for her, cook a nice meal for her, her favourite, of course. He had everything arranged perfectly, and she had been foolish enough to believe that her father might, for once, be genuinely trying to enjoy his daughter's life. She had foolishly believed this to be a new start for the two of them. Instead, it had been the start of a nightmare.
After dinner, he had announced the termination of her position at NCIS. She'd been angry at first, knowing that this meant she could not return to America for anything less than a vacation. She was even angrier to learn that her father had already secured her an undercover mission, due to begin in a matter of weeks once she had familiarised herself with the case. She had tried to contact any of her friends back at DC, but found herself unable to reach them. Her father had destroyed her cell phone a week later, hoping to remove all trace of their contact numbers, but had not been aware of his daughter's photographic memory. Every time he destroyed the numbers, she copied them down again from memory. Eventually, she stopped copying them down, even in her cell phone. She knew that any time she called, she would be able to piece together the numbers in her mind, so why make a hard copy that would only be destroyed?
But her return to Mossad had been short-lived. Just before her undercover assignment was to begin, she received a life changing piece of news that had given her more hope than fear, at the time. A piece of news that had resulted in her contract with Mossad being immediately terminated. Unfortunately, there was no choice for her, being an unmarried woman, other than to throw herself at the mercy of her father. She had insisted, initially, that she could do this alone, and had made all arrangements to do so, but her father had shot down any hopes of her returning to Washington, and she had been confined unwillingly to her room in her father's home. As she became less and less capable of keeping up with her usual ritual of trying to break out of her room with as much physical force as possible, she resigned herself to the fact that she would not be leaving Tel Aviv any time soon.
So she stopped fighting. She allowed her father to believe she had become submissive. She stopped attacking the guards when they escorted the housekeepers up to bringing her food. She stopped denying herself the medical care that was sparingly offered to her. She stopped everything save staring out of her now-barred window and planning ahead to the day when she would be in a better position to leave for good.
That time was now.
She closed the door behind her again as she turned, just as silently as she had come in the first place. Retreating away from the study, she went into the living room, biting her lip when she passed the unconscious bodies of the housekeeping staff and guards. The sleeping drugs had worked well, but she still didn't know for certain how much time it would give her once she reached Washington. When she reached the living room, she found herself recoiling at the sight before her.
Chairs were knocked over, photograph frames were smashed. It was chaos from top to bottom, with broken glass littering the red rug that was starting to brown with age and dirt combined. Parts of it were a darker shade where drinks had been spilled and still needed to be cleaned off. One of the curtain rails was hanging down at one end, and the curtain that it held was torn off, trampled into the carpet underneath. One window had a crack in the pane where something had been forced against it. It might have been her head, wasn't sure. A lot had happened that evening, and all that she could remember was knowing how much she needed to get away from this place and the screams of her former self in the back of her mind, begging her to fight back and do the right thing. But her training, instilled in her mind since she was too young to be classed as a woman, yet too old to be a girl, had been shattered away in the past months, and as hope had deserted her, so too had her strength. How could she be able to fight back against her father, one of the most powerful men she knew, when she no longer had the strength to look into her own eyes in a mirror?
Two of the housekeeping staff were collapsed by the broken window; apparently only just starting on the clearing up when the drug had begun to take affect on their bodies and minds. In the time that it had taken to do so, Ziva had packed up what little belongings she needed, very few her own, and had made sure everyone in the house was unconscious before gathering up her infant son and beginning her escape.
The child in question, a young boy, six months and three days old, was lying on the couch, a peaceful innocence glazing his sleeping face. His dark hair had, at birth, been identical to her own, but given time it had become more of his father's brown shade. What she knew to be chocolate brown eyes beneath his closed lids were all that had given her hope over the past six months. At the boys feet on the couch was a single bag, filled only with the possessions that they needed between them; entertainment enough for the boy, clothes enough for the boy. She would be able to eat and get clothes in DC with the money she had stolen from her father's study earlier that day when he was at Mossad headquarters. He hadn't noticed it missing, and if he had, he had not accused her of taking it.
Returning home on the pretence of rebuilding the burnt bridges with her father had been a mistake, she had known that for a long time now. But she had the chance to change that now, and if she did not walk out the door and get on the plane right now, she might not ever get the chance again. She might not even survive much longer than when the first of her father's guards woke up and discovered what had taken place. So she lifted the sleeping child into her arms, careful not to wake him, and looked back around the room. She had been a child in this room, the broken photographs on the floor proving that. The photograph closest to her held an old photograph, slightly blurred with age but the memory still burned in her mind; a summer image of her with her half-brother and younger sister, the three of them entwined in an embrace filled with child-like adoration for one another. Both of them were gone now, and she had left her own memories of them, her own photographs and memoirs, in her apartment of Washington. She didn't know what had become of her apartment, let alone her belongings, so she awkwardly reached to the ground and took the photograph, folding it into her pocket, just in case all of her memories no longer awaited her in DC.
Without looking back, she left the house. She went to the airport, got on the first plane to DC, and left behind her home country for the one place that could provide her sanctuary, and the one place that could help her regain her former self. She didn't stop and stare into empty rooms. She didn't stop and gather anything from the market that she passed. She didn't stop when her son awoke as they walked through Customs, she just soothed him as she walked. She didn't have any second thoughts. She just left.
Many hours later, jet-lagged and exhausted, she stepped out of the cab. Her son woke long enough to be more co-operative with her struggling both herself, her son, and their bag out of the cab, but he then returned his face to her neck and went back to sleep. She was pleased that he was sleeping. If he slept for a few more hours he would not feel the jet-lag like she would. She waited for a moment, until the cab had driven off and she had felt the baby-soft breath on her neck, signalling her son's slumber, before she entered the building before her.
And after that, after all the travelling, all the running, and after fifteen months of heartache and neglect, she found herself home. She didn't take time to look around her, she just marched straight over to where she knew she belonged. She stood in the centre of her old squad room, looking around her at the empty desks. She knew that the team were probably out on a case. She was about to approach her old desk and sit down, surprised when she found someone else's belongings scattered all over it. She looked at it for a moment, remembering what it had been like to have Agent Lee on the team. Michelle had taken her place. Michelle had taken her desk.
She turned at the voice she recognised. Her old team, her friends, were leaving MTAC. Gibbs was only just coming out of the door, but McGee, Lee and Tony were already halfway down the stairs, just staring. She locked eyes with Tony, fifteen months worth of emotion gathering in her eyes as she stared at him helplessly. She suddenly realised how terrible she appeared, sleep deprived, hope deprived, having not showered in days. She was a wreck, both physically and emotionally, but he still saw her before him and his eyes still lit up like Christmas morning - from the decorations around the office, she guessed that morning was not far off. He raced down the stairs, calling out her name as he did so, running into the bullpen and standing before her. He stopped, placing one hand on her shoulder and the other on her upper arm, as the other shoulder was occupied by her sleeping son's head.
"Ziva," he whispered, unable to take his eyes from her, his eyes reflecting her relief for her being her. "You're here,"
"Tony," she replied, ashamed that her voice came out as a pained whimper, and that shame coupled with her experiences sent the welling tears into her eyes. "Tony, I…" but she couldn't say it. She couldn't say what she had come all this way to say. She shook her head.
"You're here," he repeated. "You're home."
And then it gushed out of her mouth, before she could stop herself or find a way to sound less vulnerable. She pressed her face into her son's hair, relishing in his innocence for a moment before returning her gaze to Tony's, just at the second when Gibbs, McGee and Michelle entered the squad room and crowded around her.
Hope you like this! It was originally going to be part of My Girl, but that story went down a different path instead so I decided to make this into a seperate story. Please let me know what you think, any comments are appreciated :D