Title: The Nighttime is for Dreaming

Warnings: Angst. TIVA angst. Cliches.

Summary: The nightmares come.

Disclaimer: Not mine, not ever. I thought I was done with this but a plot bunny bit me at work today, so… This is for people who like me are going to have to wait and find the second ep online tonight after it airs. Cheers!

The nightmares come the first night in the hospital in D.C. where Ducky has insisted she stay the night for observation. Exhaustion and infection and transcontinental flights, he said, and Gibbs looked stern when she tried to protest. Abby comes with her and plumps her pillows, and insists she eat the awful food on her awful tray, and when she thinks Ziva is busy staring down the pudding, she draws the nurses into the corner to warn them about how deadly their patient is, so they should be extra nice to her.

The nightmares find her in the nondescript hospital bed, not Navy, because she's not NCIS anymore, and they turn the clean concrete walls into dank concrete walls, and they turn the blinking lights to eye-smarting beams of desert sun leaking through cracks, and Salim comes and backhands her across the face and her mouth fills up with blood.

In the morning the nurses, with the appropriate amount of respect in their eyes, examine her wounds, change a few dressings, remark on the new bruises coming only now to the surface. One new bruise is on her lip and it's shaped like teeth holding back a scream. Ziva keeps her mouth shuts and nods and after they leave she turns to her side and spits out blood.

The nightmares come the second night in her hotel. She's checked into a long-term suite, a living room and kitchenette and a separate bedroom, because she doesn't know how long she'll be here or anywhere. McGee and Ducky come with supplies, McGee with a cellphone and a refurbished laptop so she can make calls and catch up with the world outside, and Ducky with some casseroles and special Ducky-ordered medical supplies, icepacks to store in the fridge and creams to prevent scarring. They settle her in, brief her on what's changed in the agency, highlight the cases that have come across their desks, say too many times and too awkwardly, that they are glad to have her back. McGee's bruises look like stains that have been washed enough time they're fading and his nose is peeling.

The nightmares find her in her nondescript hotel bed, flowered coverlet, tight-tucked sheets. They make the TV scream obscenities in Arabic, they lash her wrists with knots of crumpled bedclothes, and Salim comes and leans over her and makes her want to betray both her countries and his breath smells like Abby and home. In the dark she grabs the hem of the t-shirt she's wearing, an old one of Abby's with a strawberry-colored stain, and she throws it far away from her. The nightmares continue, but she can't smell him anymore.

In the morning she burns the t-shirt in the sink and sets off the fire alarm, and has to hurry and blacken toast before she evacuates the building so she has an excuse. The hotel still doesn't like it and they ask her to leave as soon as she can.

The nightmares come the third night, and they reopen each of her old wounds, one at a time, and they paint the walls in colors of thirst and they speak to her in voices that sound like her father's disappointment.

On the fourth night, Tony finds her in his nondescript bed, burrowed under the covers, fists tight on his pillow. He lowers the weapon he pulled when he saw his front door ajar, because as he suspected, there's a crazy ex-Mossad person in his apartment, but it's his crazy ex-Mossad person, so it's fine.

"Hey there," he says. "Whatcha doing?"

"I'm homeless," Ziva says. "And the hotel did not appreciate it when I had to burn something."

Tony blinks a little, but he sets his gun down on the bedside table, and toes off his shoes, and climbs into bed with his traumatized ex-Mossad person.

"Glad you're here," Tony says, settling back on the headboard. "I've been having trouble sleeping."