A/N: So we're all counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the season 7 premiere begins and this idea just hit me yesterday morning just before I went off to school and then work. (Thankfully, I didn't forget my idea xD). From here on in there are spoilers for Aliyah, the season 6 finale.

Ziva has been rescued (I'm not going to speculate over who it was that did the rescuing although Tony was obviously involved, and I hope Gibbs was too) and is back in the US. However, the torture she endured in Somalia has left her traumatised and trusting no one. Gibbs visits her in hospital a few days after her return.

Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS... If I did, well, let's just say Gibbs and Tony would have been in for one hell of a rough ride. ;P Also, if DPB objects to me using his characters and the show's scenario please don't sue. I certainly don't have anything worth suing for... *sigh*


Slowly and as quietly as he could, Gibbs slid open the glass door to Ziva's hospital room then stepped inside, leaving the door open fully. Her eyes, swollen and bruised, looked to be shut, but Gibbs knew better. Whether it was the way her breathing quickened at the sound of footsteps or the way her body tensed at the slight scraping of metal, Gibbs just knew. Her eyes stayed shut as he walked unhurriedly across the room, keeping his movements slow and obvious and raising his hands, palms up, so that she could see them if she chose to look. It was dark in the room, completely dark – the nurses obviously thought it would be better for a woman who had been held and tortured in a darkened room to sleep in the dark, no chance Ziva would wake up before sunrise, obviously – but Gibbs did not want to startle Ziva so he left the lights off. His presence was probably frightening her enough as it was. Instead, the marine purposefully ambled over to the chair sitting at the window and gently lowered himself into it. He sat and waited for Ziva to acknowledge his presence, to make some sign that she was not going to either bolt out the door or try and kill him when he came closer. He had intentionally sat on Ziva's left so that she would feel less threatened by his presence – she could easily escape through the open door without Gibbs being able to stop her.

Gibbs, as an experienced marine, had fought in combat and seen the terrors of war first-hand. He had witnessed the return of hostage retrieval squads and those they had freed, emaciated and scared. He had heard stories of the cramped, squalid conditions they had been held in, and understood why those men acted like deer caught in car headlights whenever there was a loud noise or they entered an enclosed space. Watching Ziva, her muscles tensed and wide-awake even though her eyes still remained shut, Gibbs saw exactly the same thing in the young woman.

He waited. To him, there was nothing more important than helping the Israeli recover from her terrible ordeal. He could not offer the comfort of saying that everything would go back to the way it was but he could make sure Ziva knew that he was there, the team was there and would help in any way they could.

A short hiss broke Gibbs from his musings and he had to fight to stay in his seat rather than rush to Ziva's side. She was in pain but the thought of having drugs in her system frightened her: she had been without control of what happened to her for far too long to allow anyone near her with a needle full of some unknown medication. Seething at the thought of a member of his team being tortured, Gibbs watched silently as Ziva blinked open her eyes and groaned, shifting restlessly as the pain in her damaged ribs increased. The fact that a father could allow this to happen to his own daughter almost produced a growl from Gibbs, but he managed to suppress it, barely. He could feel his anger building with every groan from Ziva and wished he could comfort her like he had Kelly when she was ill or had a nightmare.

As a brisk curse in Hebrew escaped Ziva's cracked lips, Gibbs threw caution to the wind and, in two strides, was at her bedside, a hand hovering indecisively over her bruised forearm. Mentally, he ran through all the ways he could settle her, each time coming up with an outcome in which he was lying painfully immobilised on the floor and Ziva was nowhere to be seen. Finally, he opted for the one thing that would give him time to escape Ziva's flailing limbs. He bent as close to her ear as he dared and then softly whispered, "Ziva."

Gibbs did his best to avoid sounding threatening, but nonetheless Ziva's eyes flew open in panic and she rolled quickly off the bed, surprisingly agile despite her serious injuries. Rapidly backing off, Gibbs raised his hands and tried to act as non-threateningly as possible. When his back hit the cold concrete wall, Gibbs knew there could only be one of two outcomes after this: either Ziva ran and left Gibbs standing stunned against the wall; or she attacked him, more than likely resulting in serious injury for Gibbs despite his marine training – Ziva's fight-or-flight instinct coupled with her Mossad training was a highly dangerous combination, and Gibbs would rather not be on the receiving end of it. When she took a step towards him, Gibbs knew he was in trouble.

Step by jerky step, Ziva advanced, her eyes flitting between objects in the room but never stopping on Gibbs. For the first time in four years, Gibbs was afraid of the Mossad officer. He had never seen her so wild and desperate. She was running on fumes of fumes and the most basic of instincts – kill or be killed.

Gibbs was slightly confused by her slow advance before realising that she knew he was cornered and if she wanted to be safe for longer than a few minutes she would need to wound her attacker. Keeping his tone neutral and his voice low, Gibbs tried to break through the haze of panic set in Ziva's mind. "Ziva, it's alright..." The slightest twitch of his right hand, however, sent the advancing assassin sprinting from the room, ignoring the concerned shouts of nurses. As she brushed clumsily past a tall metal shelving unit and it toppled to the floor, the deafening crash echoing through the long hall, Ziva's fear grew. She skidded to a halt in front of a door and, ignoring the 'No Unauthorised Access' sign, yanked it open, stumbling inside and slamming it shut behind her. Gibbs was close behind her and immediately wrenched the door open, paying no attention to the protests from nearby nurses. As he stepped inside, he winced. Ziva was cowering in a corner, desperately trying to find a way out as Gibbs took short steps towards her with his hands once again raised. This was no holds barred terror. Plain and simple.

With each step Gibbs took, he gently reassured her that he was not going to hurt her, whilst mentally berating himself for alarming her.

There was nothing else you could do, Jethro!

Another step and Gibbs was within ten feet of her. "I'm not going to hurt you, Ziva."

You could've called a nurse, gotten them to give her a sedative!

He stopped his advance, waiting for any reaction from the spooked woman.

And that wouldn't have made it worse?

Ziva's gaze momentarily left Gibbs and he took another few steps towards her. He was almost within her reach now but he did not care. He wanted to help her, and that was something he could not do if she did not trust him. Gibbs was about to take another step when an angry doctor stormed in – clearly he objected to patients invading the room. Gibbs turned to yell at the man only to see the doctor's eyes widen and then intense pain erupted across Gibbs' lower back and a thin, battered arm snaked round his neck, pulling him tight against Ziva's body. She twisted his right arm behind his back, pushing it painfully high but not dislocating or breaking it. Only then, when his life really was in Ziva's hands, did Gibbs realise the extent of her malnutrition. There was barely anything covering her ribs and her arms were solely muscle, some had atrophied but there was still a lot of it, enough to snap Gibbs' neck in an instant, anyway.

Gasping for breath and trying to suppress the pain in his back, Gibbs did not struggle. Instead, he kept whispering soothingly to the woman, hoping that it would bring her to her senses or at least make her believe him. The doctor, not one that Gibbs recognised, advanced in much the same way as Gibbs had only without the reassurances and raised hands. There was nothing Gibbs could do to deter him and the doctor – Doctor Jamieson: he was so close, Gibbs could read his nametag – continued forward. Ziva, needing some way to subdue Gibbs so she could deal with the doctor, twisted her former boss around, the shock on his face barely registering, and slammed a fist into his chest, bringing her knee up sharply to connect with his nose as he bent double. But for a pained grunt, Gibbs did not react – he needed Ziva to trust him not fear him. However, when Dr. Jamieson blocked Ziva's path, bellowing to the nurses milling around the door, Gibbs was forced to do something. He could see that Ziva still did not believe she was safe and was considering removing the physician from her path rather swiftly and most likely violently. Instinctively and ignoring the blood pouring from his nose and running into his mouth, Gibbs took two strides and stepped between the doctor and Ziva. "Ziva, stop. You're safe now. No one is going to hurt you here." She took another step, and Gibbs was sure he was about to feel a hell of a lot more pain. Her legs were shaking and her breathing was alarmingly laboured and so, more afraid for his agent's well-being than his own, Gibbs stepped closer and added in a whisper but with complete conviction, "I promise."


If someone had been videoing the entire affair, they would easily, and without a doubt, be able to tell when exactly Ziva believed Gibbs just from her facial expression. As it was, her legs buckled under her and Gibbs barely had time to catch her, supporting her weight as she collapsed into his embrace and wept, her hot tears seeping through the thin material of his shirt. Jamieson, after being waved away by Gibbs as he tried to examine Ziva, handed Gibbs a wad of tissues, which the marine pressed gratefully to his bleeding nose. Slowly, Gibbs sank to the floor, pulling Ziva down with him to sit against the wall. His back and nose ached and there was the tell-tale throbbing of broken ribs in his chest, but Gibbs did not care. He stroked Ziva's sweat-slicked hair, still whispering supportively to her.

Finally, she stopped crying and for the first time since they had rescued her, looked at him. "Gibbs..." He had expected her to object to the arm wrapped around her shoulder or the hand smoothing her brown hair, but in some ways, the single acknowledgement was better – the panic of earlier was gone and Ziva seemed to trust him enough to let her guard down. It brought back memories of Gibbs' time spent comforting Abby in an elevator when her crazy ex-boyfriend was stalking her. Looking down at Ziva, Gibbs smiled cautiously. "You're going to be OK, Ziva." The weak smile she offered in return was good enough for Gibbs and they settled into companionable silence.


A/N: :] Can't believe I managed to write this in about 3 hours (may not sound very good, but considering it took me 3 weeks to write Koshmar, I think that's pretty good!).

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this and feedback is appreciated, especially constructive criticism. Also, if Ziva's reactions seem a bit weird, I'd like to know what should have happened... maybe I'll do a Tony one... hmmm...*lightbulb appears overhead* Oh wait... I've got far too many ideas already...