Give and Take

By Iamakunoichi

A/N: Random Ziva drabble that popped into my head. I know, people are waiting for I Wanna Scream, but if it's waited this long it can stand a little longer. I had to get this out there. I love Ziva and I respect her so much for the choice she had to make…this is set just after Kill Ari, by the way. I wonder why all my NCIS pieces end up as emotional sketches?

Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS or any of its characters, assorted rights, or anything else lawyers can bill me for.

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There are days that she cannot take it anymore.

Days when she grows thoroughly sickened by Tony's wary eyes, McGee's careful avoidance, Abby's outright hatred. They don't trust her – she knows they don't. They may laugh and joke with her, but underneath it all lies a carefully maintained distance, a thread of suspicious paranoia. You don't belong here, they say – not in words, but it doesn't matter, they say it constantly, in a million different ways - you are an invader. You are the enemy. You will betray us. We cannot afford to like you. We cannot afford to trust you.

We don't trust you.

She understands. She understands that Ari hurt them in ways she cannot possibly begin to comprehend. She understands that as a member of Mossad and a figure closely linked with Ari, they cannot, will not trust her. She understands that she is a suspicious figure, an assassin, a spy, a liar. She is a daily reminder of an open wound, an event that they are terrified will happen again. She understands, but it does not stop her from hurting.

And it hurts so much.

She watches them interact, though they never notice. When they think she is not around, she watches. They joke around, rag on each other. Things they do all the time in her presence, and yet never as they do when alone. This time when McGee laughs, it comes easy and free, and his eyes soften instead of closing off. When Abby smiles it nearly splits her face, and has no trace of the hidden grimace that is ever-present when she is around. When Tony speaks, his voice is no longer tight, and his position relaxes instead of staying stiff and wary. And as she watches them, she wishes she could be part of it.

She wishes so much to be part of their family.

Family. Something she may have had once – a long, long time ago. But her family died before she ever left Israel, before that fateful bullet ever made contact with Ari's skull. And until now, she did not miss it. Family was a pipe dream for little children, and Ziva was no child. Yet they stood here, nagging, laughing, loving. And for the first time she feels loneliness. She craves what they have, but she knows she can never be a part of it, can never have a place in their little family no matter how much she wishes it. Gibbs' headslaps, Abby's hugs, McGee's stutters and Tony's jokes – those are reserved for them and them alone.

Yet still she clings to hope, wishing for a day when she too is included in that tight-knit circle of trust and love.

But they can't trust her. After Ari, their trust is shattered, and she fears she may never regain it. Every day she struggles to prove herself, to gain their trust. But it never seems to be enough. She has sacrificed so much for them, but they will never know it. And she never plans to tell. What happen to Ari is too personal, too raw a wound to ever be confessed. And likely they would only hate her more if she did.

Not that she could blame them.

They hate her now, but still she will stay, and watch their backs. For them, she sacrificed her brother, her career, her way of life. She gave so much for them, for their family, and she will keep on giving. Even as they look at her with eyes of thinly veiled apprehension, she will hang on. She will give everything – everything she has, everything she is – for the hope of one day being able to stand amongst them as if she belonged there.

But even she can only sacrifice so much.

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A/N: So yeah. Hoped you liked it. Please read and review!