SPOILER FOR ALIYAH

I have thought since I saw the episode how devastating it all must have been for Ziva. So this is my take on her after she is rescued. I don't say how she is rescued because it's not really important to the story but personally I feel it will not be NCIS that rescues her or Mossad. For some reason I see Trent Kort and the CIA getting involved. Don't know why. Just my gut, and like Tony's gut sometimes my gut sucks.

I do not own NCIS or any part thereof.

FORGIVENESS

Betty Carelli walked down the familiar hallway leading to the hospital chapel or "meditation room" as they called it now. Over the last four years while Frankie fought his losing battle against cancer she had memorized every landmark; the arched entrance leading off to the cafeteria, the information station with the Pink Ladies and Gentlemen waiting to help you find your way, the gift shop with its overpriced trinkets, and finally the golden-hued wooden door in a building otherwise filled with metal doors with a discrete sign over it saying "Meditation."

She pushed the door open and as always felt the cool welcome of the room. It was nothing like the churches she'd gone to as a child and woman with the lingering smell of incense and the echoes of prayers still in the air. This small, square room had six short pew-like benches sitting on either side with an ornate podium in front of the seats and a thick carpet of deep red covering the floor with matching curtains draping the walls. She made her way to her favorite seat, the front bench on the far right where she could rest her back in the corner.

It was the quiet she thought she enjoyed most. Everywhere else you went in a hospital, no matter which hospital, there was noise. Always the hiss and hum of machines, the muted murmur of hundreds of voices like a distant brook, occasionally a shriek or scream, and sometimes scarily the sound of running feet as the rescue team raced death to haul someone back from the precipice. Twice already the someone hauled back had been Frankie.

Sitting down she heaved a sigh of relief. The quiet refreshed her and eased even her physical pain. Ever since she'd fractured her hip two years ago walking had been painful but she refused to use more than a cane. Dammit, she hadn't come to the walker stage yet. She might be 86 years old but by God she could still get where she wanted to go even if the going was slow. But it sure as hell did feel good to rest in the quiet.

She smiled at her thoughts. When she was young she would never have cursed, even in her thoughts, in a chapel but now it seemed unimportant. God had probably made up his mind about her years ago and she didn't think there was much she could do at this late date to change her ultimate destination. Snorting at her own silliness she made herself comfortable. Turning so she could prop her leg up on the seat and settling her cane with the curved handle over the back of the pew she lowered her head and started off by saying a little prayer for her Frankie, asking that his suffering be lightened and shortened if at all possible. At 93 with first lung cancer and now brain cancer she knew Frankie would find relief only in death. Sad but true. Her husband of almost 60 years and father of two of her four children was dying and she could only pray for the end to come quickly.

"Amen," she said out loud and crossed herself and then settled back more comfortably. Now she would do what she usually did, remember. Today she chose to remember Frankie when they first met. She a young war widow with two small sons and Frankie a big strapping second generation Italian-American from the Bronx who'd survived D-Day with a hunk of shrapnel in his back but still managed to work as a longshoreman for 30 years. He'd had curly black hair and the biggest, softest brown eyes back then and had easily captured her heart even before he spoke a word to her.

Sitting there her eyes closed she smiled as she thought of their first kiss. All tenderness to begin with but it had rapidly become passionate and she'd learned food wasn't the only big appetite Frankie possessed. Her only regret now was she hadn't indulged both of them more often, enjoyed each other at every opportunity. He had been quite the man in those days, her Frankie.

She sat up straight, dropping her leg back down to the floor. She'd heard something. Like someone shifting position. She looked around the room, still empty. She heard the sound again, like leaves rustling almost. She reached for her cane. Wasn't much but it might do to fend off someone and she was still a hell of a screamer if need be.

A whisper of a whimper came from behind the podium. She got up slowly, not using her cane to balance herself but instead carrying it like a club held back over her shoulder. Walking as quietly as she could she made her way to the wooden stand and peeked over the top of it.

A young woman sat on the floor; a girl with two long dark braids over her shoulders dressed in a hospital gown and pajama bottoms. She had her legs pulled up close to her chest with her arms wrapped around them. Betty couldn't see her face but she could see her arms and bare feet. All the exposed skin revealed a rainbow of bruises with what looked like some kind of scrapes or burns around her wrists. Two of the fingers on her left hand were in a buddy splint. The woman huddled into herself and didn't say a word as Betty stared down at her.

Feeling foolish Betty set her cane tip back on the floor and leaned forward.

"Goodness you scared me. You okay? You need me to get anybody for you, honey?"

At the sound of her voice the woman's head jerked up and Betty caught her breath. The woman had been so severely beaten Betty couldn't tell if she was pretty or not. The entire left side of her face was swollen, discolored. Her brown eyes were blackened and puffy staring up at Betty with what could only be fear.

Lowering her voice, Betty backed slowly away, retaking her seat on the pew.

"It's okay. I'm not going to hurt you. My name's Betty, Betty Carelli. I just came to pray for my husband, Frankie. This is his second week here this time and I come most every day. It's a nice place this chapel, isn't it? Very nondenominational though. I miss when hospitals used to have a real chapel and there were real chaplains around all the time. You didn't have to page one to talk to somebody."

Betty knew she was rambling but thought if she could just keep talking in a soothing voice she might be able to help calm the young woman. She'd looked so scared. Betty just wasn't used to scaring people. At 86 her scaring days were long past except for her great-grandkids, the little brats.

"You wanna come out maybe? Sit here by me? I'd come sit by you cause I like meeting new people and getting to know them but if I sit on the floor then I got to have a crane to get my fat old butt back up again."

She laughed at herself. Everything she'd said was true but it still struck her as funny. You never thought you'd reach this point when you were young but somehow you get here. Thank God he'd let her keep her sense of humor through it all.

She heard movement and thought she saw the flip of a braid as if the stranger was looking around the corner of the podium. She smiled and patted the bench next to her.

Then the door in the rear of the room slammed open and Betty jerked around to see a silver-haired man come in, a cell phone at his ear. He strode to the end of Betty's pew and fixed a blue-eyed glare on her.

"Are you alone? Have you seen anyone else in here; a female patient with dark hair, moving slowly?"

Oh…so this was why she was hiding, her little friend behind the podium? This overpowering man who had such pretty blue eyes and yet looked so mean? Betty made up her mind quickly.

"Nope, ain't seen nobody since I came down about half an hour ago. Just me and the good Lord, I guess."

The man nodded his head and turned and strode out of the room speaking in his phone, "Not in the chapel. Get some more agents and close off all the exits."

He stopped as he got to the door and looked back at her seeming to weigh the truth of her words then let the door close behind him. She heard him say before the quiet of the room returned, "Don't worry, DiNozzo, we'll find her. She can't have gotten far."

Silence returned to the room then she heard the tiny whimper. She made up her mind. The beaten woman needed a friend. If men like that one were hunting her she needed a friend now! Pushing up she walked back to the podium, backed up to the wall and slid down, using both the podium and her cane to slow her descent. Her butt was about 8 to 10 inches from the floor when she let go and plopped down on her ass. A sharp pain jolted through her from her old fracture site and she groaned but then settled in.

"Well, now we're in for it. I may never get up again."

She looked at her companion and smiled.

"So, since I'm down here and won't be getting up for a while let's talk. I told you I'm Betty right? What's your name, sweetie?"

There was no answer but then she hadn't really expected one.

"It looks to me like maybe you might need somebody to talk to. I know I'm a fat old woman and not much good anymore for most things but I can still listen and if need be I got a cell phone and I know how to use it to call the cops. I'm a damned good listener even if I do say so myself."

Still the dark-haired stranger didn't speak.

"You might as well talk. I won't be getting up anytime soon, not without some help and we'll both get bored."

Betty smiled again. Now that she was closer she could see the right side of the younger woman's face. She was a pretty girl after all. The left side had obviously been the focus of her beating. The eye on that side still opened only a slit and swelling distorted her jaw and lips.

The woman looked up as Betty stayed silent. Betty could see her throat move as she swallowed. Then in a faint, raspy voice, like she'd smoked too many cigarettes the night before or spent a lot of time screaming recently, she said, "Ziva. My name is Ziva."