Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Author's Note: This is my first NCIS story. I meant it to be the beginning of an actual story, but it is what it is and refused to become something else. I'm not very happy with it- I haven't written in a long time and it seems very stilted to me and a little like it's trying too hard, but I'm making myself post it so that I feel more compelled to write something else- something better. Wouldn't want this to be my last posting. =) Explanations aside, all criticism is very welcomed. And if I haven't scared you away with all that, the story….
Night had become her enemy. In the stillness, the quiet, shadows blurred the lines of the familiar until reality became nothing but shades of black that twisted and changed before her eyes. From the corners of her room memories of men would creep- not only Saleem's men, but the faces of all those that had come before. The men whose lives she had taken in the name of her country, those she had killed to protect her own life and the lives of others, the faces of those she had betrayed and who had betrayed her. Faces full of hatred and anger and sadness. The heaviness of the dark would crowd her vision, pressing against her skin until she was back in the corner of a dark, dirty cell with nothing to do but wait. Wait for the next visit from Saleem's men, for the next wave of pain, for death.
The nightmares were inevitable. And with them came the numbness, the resignation she had felt as she had fought through the camp's defenses -as she was tied to the chair -as she awoke everyday with the idea of death welcome. Those feelings were worse the nightmares themselves. Because once you've given up so completely, once you've let those feelings take root inside yourself it becomes a constant battle to keep them at bay. During the day, in the light and noise of life, it was easier to distract herself, to live in the moment, to be present and aware, to feel alive. Alone, with the raspy ghost of a scream on her lips, it took everything she had not to let herself slip back to that other place. To fall back into what had become familiar, well-worn and comfortable, a place where nothing mattered and nothing hurt. It had allowed her to survive the camp, had provided the detachment necessary for her to let go of everything and prepare for death. What had been her salvation was now her greatest danger. It was so easy for her to get lost inside herself that she worried one day she would be lost for good.
But she would not go easily. The empty streets allowed her the freedom she still couldn't get enough of, to move about as she pleased. She would focus on each footstep, the sound and feel of it, on the muscles that flexed and relaxed as she moved her foot, her leg, her body. On the chilly night air as it teased her hair and brushed her skin. She found herself making each sensation a separate and distinct observation, a reminder that her body was physical, that she existed outside that time and place in her mind. She was here (step), now (step), alive (breathe). Each movement brought her more firmly into the present, drew her out of the darkness of her memories and helped break the numbness. And so she walked….she would not let the night win.
She couldn't bring herself to be surprised when she saw the figure sitting on her doorstep at 3 in the morning, waiting for her. He stood as she approached and as they had done so many times since she'd come back, found the need for words obsolete. They simply stared at each other- conveying thoughts where words failed. It was an unspoken agreement that she let him follow her into the hallway and then into her apartment. Their movements felt practiced and comfortable, almost as if they had been waiting for this moment- having rehearsed it, dreamed it in their minds. It was what they had been moving towards ever since the bag had been torn from her head in Somalia. Apologies, explanations, and declarations were unnecessary. It was out of character for both of them and they would most likely regret it in the morning, but for the moment nothing else existed. And as he held her in his arms, their tears mingling until they were indistinguishable as separate drops, she found a new alternative to walking.