Sort of tag to Reunion. Takes place after, though, and before The Inside Man. Ziva's back in the field, what will happen when she has to get physical with a suspect? Dedicated to my LJ mom and my bestie!
They were running after a suspect, and her heart was pounding in her chest. Air was struggling to get in, struggling to get out, and she felt like she was drowning, but she pushed on, matching Tony step for step. The guy in front of them stopped, turned, and they could see by his stance he was determined to fight them. She pushed forward and reached him first. He went to grab her, and she could see his fist coming for her face; she froze.
Memories pushed their way through the carefully built barriers in her mind. Saleem, hitting her. Saleem, beating her, burning her with cigarettes, mocking her. She was vaguely aware that Tony had stopped their suspect from hitting her, and was battling with him now, and she knew she should help, but she found herself paralyzed with memories and fear.
Suddenly, she was on the ground, without knowing how she got there. Tony and the suspect were nowhere to be found. Her breathing increased, until she was practically hyperventilating. She had assured the psychologist that she could deal with the PTSD, but here she was, allowing it to bend her to its will.
Before she knew what was happening, Tony's arms were around her, picking her up off the ground. He carried her back to the car and made her stand against it. He took her face in his hands and forced her eyes to meet his.
"Ziva, listen to me. You are in DC, not in Africa. You are in DC, with me, and I won't let anything hurt you. You are fine, you are safe," Tony said, making sure her eyes kept contact with his. Eventually, her breathing slowed and she slumped against Tony, adrenaline leaving her body exhausted. Tony placed his arms around her and held her tightly. Finally, she pulled away, taking a deep breath as she did. She didn't look up at Tony, she didn't want to.
"Thank you," she said. She slid out from around his body and got into the car, on the passenger side. Their suspect was sitting in the back, handcuffed, with a developing black eye.
They were silent the whole way back to the Navy Yard. Ziva would glance at Tony occasionally, and she couldn't tell what he was thinking. His face was straight, showing no emotion. When they arrived, some probie agents met them in the evidence garage and took the suspect up to interrogation. Ziva went to get out too, but was stopped when Tony grabbed her hand.
"Tony," Ziva began, her exhaustion showing in her tone of voice.
"Don't say it was nothing," Tony said, his voice gruff and short. Ziva remained still, not daring to talk. "Are you still having nightmares?" Ziva went to shake her head, but Tony squeezed her arm. "Don't lie."
"Yes," she finally said, her voice sounding tiny and small.
"God damn it, Ziva, why haven't you told anyone?" Tony said, smacking the palm of his hand against the steering wheel as he swore.
"Because I don't deserve the help, I deserve to suffer. I believe the expression is I made my bed, now I must lie in it, yes?" Ziva said, snapping back, her exhaustion temporarily forgotten. Tony reached across the space between them and grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him.
"Did you fuck up royally, yes. Did you apologize, yes. You do not deserve to suffer, not now, not ever. If you need help, just ask. I'm here, McGee is there, Abby is there, Gibbs is there, Ducky is there, we're all there for you Ziva. Don't you get that? We're your family. Families take care of each other." Tears came to Ziva's eyes and she quickly brushed the tears away.
"Thank you, Tony," Ziva said after a deep breath and a moment of silence. He leaned over and kissed her cheek.