McGee tried vainly to press the already soaked towel to the side of Ziva's neck as she bulled her way through the hospital, ignoring his every attempt to get her to return to the ER. After refusing any treatment until establishing that Tony had been sent to the OR for his gunshot wound, Ziva had been shunted to a bed in the corner after her injuries had been judged non-life-threatening. McGee had his doubts – she was certainly making him fear for his life. It was his own fault; bribing her to sit still by giving her his SIG had the potential to be the concluding action of his career. At least letting her hold it had brought him an extra half hour of employment, even if she'd dripped blood onto the grip from her wrist while the ER staff had dealt with victims from a multi-car collision. If only he'd thought to take out the clip…
He was brought back to the moment when he almost lost his grip on the bloody towel as she made a sharp turn around a corner. "Ziva, I really don't think you should…"
Her only response was to yank the towel from his hand and drop it on the floor.
"That's really not sanitary…" He hurried to keep up with her increased pace, almost knocking her down when they hit a dead end at an elevator bank. "Can I at least find you, um, a wheelchair or something?"
"Why are there no signs? Shouldn't a hospital have signs?"
He fought back a grin. She almost sounded like Tony. "I think they only put up signs for things people don't have to be escorted to." He firmly grasped her upper arm and tried to pull her in the direction an ER sign was pointing. "Or something like that."
"I am not trying to find the secret doctors' break room!" She jerked out of his grip with depressingly little effort. "I would simply like to find the operatory to get an update."
"Operatory? You mean the OR?"
"Semantics, McGee? Really?"
He cowered for a moment as she turned in a circle, briefly aligning the barrel of his weapon with his chest. "Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't we go back to the ER and once you've gotten some stitches we can get directions to the OR? Maybe Tony will even be ready for visitors by then."
Hearing his name seemed to galvanize her. "This way." McGee had to do a lot of badge-flashing to keep the people they met in the halls calm.
Ten minutes later they were sitting in a quiet lounge with a single older woman, who went back to her knitting after a few wary looks. McGee had managed to get a few rolls of gauze from a woman at a desk they'd passed. Ziva was again permitting him to put some pressure on her wounds, though she didn't seem to be bleeding anymore. She still wouldn't give back his SIG, though.
He decided it was worth one last try. "I really think you'd be better off…"
"Did you not bring a book, McGee?"
"I…my phone as an app for…oh." He gave up on his efforts at triage and leaned back in his chair. It had been a long, stressful day. Sure, not as long for him as it had been for Tony and Ziva, but still… The click of knitting needles was almost hypnotic. The adrenaline rush of a firefight really left you drained afterward. He closed his eyes, just to rest for a moment.
Ziva was only minimally regretful regarding her treatment of McGee, a feeling that would soon pass if he continued to snore. What did he have to be so tired about? Well, chasing her kidnappers around the city, but… He shifted in his seat, jarring her injured wrist, and any sympathy she may have been developing drained away very quickly. She tugged the bloody gauze from his hands and walked toward the trash can under the television mounted in the corner. When McGee awoke, she was going to be nicer to him, perhaps return his weapon; he was attempting to take care of her, after all.
In the meantime, she took a seat two down from where he was now leaning into the neighboring seat, mouth slightly open as he took what she was sure was a well-earned nap. It was going to be awhile before she was comfortable enough to sleep. It didn't help the McGee was right – she should have been in the ER, not stalking around the hospital terrifying people. She hadn't had a chance to look in a mirror yet, but she was sure it wouldn't be a pleasant experience. After a moment's hesitation, she stood and looked around the room. This hospital really needed to work on its signage.
She turned to the only other conscious person in the room. "Excuse me, could you tell me if there is a restroom around here?"
"Just down the hall on your right, dear."
"Thank you." Ziva realized she hadn't been to the bathroom since Safad had escorted her to the one at Jen's house earlier in the day and walked faster, passing the mirror over the sink in favor of the stall. She had no holster for McGee's SIG, so she balanced it on the toilet paper holder. Poor gun safety. She made doubly sure that the safety was on before pushing the muzzle into her pocket as she kicked the handle to flush the toilet.
Nothing to do now but… She was surprised security hadn't been summoned to drag her off when she caught her first glimpse of herself in the mirror. It also explained why McGee had been so concerned about keeping her in the ER. She'd forgotten she even had a laceration on her forehead – that was from when they'd been knocked out that morning by her car. Still, it looked minor compared to her neck. She watched the muscles move as she turned her head to get a better view. It was fortunate Safad hadn't cut deeper.
She glanced down at her wrist. The paramedics had removed the bandage that Safad had wrapped around it earlier in the day. Of everything that had occurred, that stood out in her mind. Their hands had been tied up out of sight every time they had appeared on video, so it couldn't have been for show. And he had been oddly considerate when wrapping it... She caught herself just before splashing water on her face. She opted instead for a damp paper towel to clean off some of the dried blood on her forehead; she left her neck alone. There was nothing to be done about her bloodstained shirt, short of throwing it away.
She was still thinking about her wrist when she resumed her seat in the waiting room. After a few minutes, the woman in the across the room cleared her throat. "Not to be a bother, dear, but I feel that I should tell you this is the family waiting room for the operating room. I believe the ER is on the first floor."
"My fiancé was shot," Ziva stated, feeling more blunt than usual.
"Well, I'm very sorry to hear that." The woman was still eying her warily. "You weren't the one to shoot him, by any chance, were you dear?"
For the first time since McGee had given her his SIG, she had forgotten that she was armed. "No." She unclipped her badge from her belt and held it up. "We are federal agents."
"So you're allowed to have that gun there?"
McGee mumbled, "She spent the day kidnapped and she's still a little paranoid."
Ziva ignored him. "You are not in any danger. It simply makes me feel better."
The woman held up two knitting needles. "I know the feeling. I wouldn't be able to get through my Arthur's surgeries without something to keep me busy."
"Arthur is your husband?"
"No, dear, my son. Well, his father was also Arthur, may he rest in peace. He never got to the point of needing surgeries. Heart attack almost twenty years ago, now. No, Arthur – my son, I mean – has had digestive troubles. He thinks if he calls it that I won't realize it's colon cancer, but…it's good to be here for him."
"I hope that he…"
A young man in green scrubs suddenly bounced into the doorway of the waiting room and interrupted the conversation, "Hey, anyone here with DiNozzo?"
Ziva shot out of her seat, closely followed by McGee. "Yes, is he all right?"
"Wow, you're a mess!" The doctor ran a hand over his shaved head. "Shouldn't you be seeing a doctor yourself?"
"Tell us how Tony is doing first."
"Come on down to the consult room." He didn't give them a chance to get a word in edgewise as he led them to a small room. "Aw, locked! Well, anyway, just got out of surgery with your DiNozzo guy. Man, it was the coolest thing I've ever seen! The bullet came in here," he pointed to a spot on his left side, "and bam! Right through his spleen, then bounced off a rib and came back to finish the job before lodging in the intercostals. Didn't touch another organ in there! Course, you can bleed to death from a ruptured spleen, and that thing was absolutely destroyed, so…"
As he continued to speak, Ziva had found the grip of the SIG. It was just about to come out of her pocket when someone shouted, "Dr. Oliveira! What have I told you about speaking with patients' families?"
"Oh, Dr. Kahn! The, uh, consulting room was locked, so I was just giving these people an update on…I'll just be going, then!"
The severe looking woman, Dr. Kahn, softened when the young man disappeared around the corner. "I apologize for my intern. He is a talented surgeon, but lacks empathy. And people skills. My hope is that he'll pick some up. Shall we sit and discuss Mr. DiNozzo's condition?"
Ziva was getting close to the end of her patience. "Is he okay?"
"He's in recovery right now. We had to remove a portion of his spleen, but he has an excellent prognosis. We'll likely keep him in the ICU for several days to monitor for complications, but aside from some superficial injuries, he is in excellent health."
She tuned out the rest of the doctor's explanation, holding onto the most important thing – Tony was going to be fine. All she needed now was proof. She interrupted something about transfusions to ask, "Can I see him now?"
"No, he won't be able to have any visitors for at least an hour. And then we can only allow brief visits from family. I know how close many in law enforcement are, but…"
"Tony and I are engaged. Can I see him?"
"As I said, he can't have visitors for an hour. And you won't be allowed into the ICU in that condition. I'll have an orderly escort you downstairs for treatment."
"I think we can…"
McGee was the one to interrupt this time. "Yes, thank you."
As they followed a woman down the corridor a few minutes later, an unexpected voice caused Ziva to stop short. "Ziva!"
She turned slowly to make sure she wasn't hearing things. "Abba, what are you…?"
He arrived amid a swarm of dark suits to envelope her in a hug. "Why are you not receiving medical attention?"
"I did not want to wait until…"
"Tony will not feel better if he wakes to find you suffering! Come, where must you go?"
She spent the next hour feeling much better than she had all day, though she wasn't sure how much could be attributed to the fact that her father held her hand through an interminable number of stitches.