Title: Rebuilding Broken Lives
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the original characters from the show, they belong to the writers of NCIS.
Author's Note: It's been so long since I've updated that I'm just going to hang my head in shame for now. I'll explain more in the final author's note at the end of the chapter.
The second robber, Eric, if Ziva remembered correctly, wasn't ready to dismiss the possibility that she really was pregnant. "I don't know John. We don't even really need this one. We're wearing masks so she'll never know who we are. We can leave now without any trouble."
"You call this 'without trouble?'" John waved his gun at Ziva, and glared at his partner.
"Shoot her and I'm done with this." Eric glared at his partner, and all Ziva could do was stare at the two of them.
Swallowing, John slowly took his gun off of Ziva… and aimed it at Eric. "I can't have you backing out, man. You shoot her now, or I shoot you."
"You're kidding right?" The way Eric's voice cracked, however, was proof that he knew John wasn't kidding. "Come on man, we're friends. Have been for years. We kept each other going through college. Where would you even be today if it wasn't for me?"
"I wouldn't be here," John agreed, "'cause I'd have shot her and been done with this place a good ten minutes ago. Now shoot her, or I'll kill you right here."
"We've been through so much together!" Eric tried to reason with his friend, but it was no use, and judging by the firm set of his jaw, he knew it. Swallowing, he raised his gun and pointed it at Ziva. His eyes met hers and he whispered softly. "I'm sorry."
"You will be," Ziva's heart leapt in her chest at the sound of a familiar voice, "if you don't put that gun down."
Ziva's bedroom light was suddenly turned on, revealing an angry-looking Gibbs, gun in hand. There was the distinctive sound of a gun's safety being released, and Gibbs appeared nothing if not confident as he pointed the gun at John's head. "Both of you, put your weapons down now if you want to live through the night!"
Eric, who had his gun pointed at Ziva, dropped it immediately. He kicked the weapon from out of reach and got down on his knees before Gibbs even ordered him to do so, a sure sign that he had been caught in similar situations before. Gibbs nodded when Eric put both hands on the back of his head to prove that he was harmless, and the NCIS agent was quick to turn his attention to the other thief, John.
John, he knew, wouldn't go down as easily as Eric had. The conversation Gibbs had just overheard was proof of that. While Eric had wanted to leave the house and do as little harm as possible when he realized that Ziva was awake and aware of their presence in her house, John had forced the other thief to stay. Similarly, Eric had wanted to let Ziva go, but John had tried forcing him to shoot her. Like Gibbs was going to let that happen.
"I said drop your weapons."
"I heard what you said." John spat. He was sweating profusely and—though he refused to show it—Gibbs was unnerved by the frantic look in the other man's eyes. Panic was never good in a situation like this. Panicked gunmen meant trigger-happy gunmen, and even an idiot knew how dangerous trigger-happy gunmen were. "I just don't see why I should listen to you."
Eric was shaking as he watched his partner attempt to stand up to a cop. "Come on man, it's over. Just put the gun down before you get yourself killed!"
"No," John shook his head, "I'm not going back to jail. Not again. Never again."
"Yeah," Gibbs interrupted, "you are." John tensed visibly, so Gibbs was quick to continue before the young man could try to shoot his way out of the situation. "I'm not gonna lie. You're going back to jail. I'll make sure of it. But there's no need for anyone to get hurt here today. Your sentence will only be longer if you fire that gun, and you know it. So put the gun down, and I'll allow you to walk out of here bullet-free and with a lighter sentence. Got it?"
John shook his head, and wiped his forehead with his left arm, while holding the gun steady in his right. Currently, it was aimed at the other thief and not Ziva. Gibbs wouldn't shoot as long as it stayed that way. He would try to talk the gunman down if it was Eric's life at risk, because the two thieves were obviously friends, and so John had less reason to shoot. Eric was merely his way out of the situation at the moment and Gibbs doubted that he would actually harm his friend unnecessarily. John, Gibbs guessed, would be much less hesitant to shoot Ziva, who meant nothing to him. That was why Gibbs had already decided to shoot John if he turned his gun onto the young woman, lying vulnerable on the floor.
"You're going to let me walk out of here, unharmed, if you want these two to live." John waved his left hand to demonstrate that he was talking about Ziva and Eric, while keeping the gun in his right arm aimed steadily at Eric. Still, Gibbs saw the man's arm shake, and he heard the tremor in his voice. John was scared, and Gibbs planned to use that to his advantage.
"I'm not going to let you walk away from this, but neither am I going to let you harm anyone. If anyone is this room gets hurt today, it'll be you. I can tell from the look in your eyes that you're terrified. You know I'm not lying when I tell you that I will shoot you if you even attempt to fire a single shot. Now put the gun down before you give me the excuse, because believe me, if I can justify putting a bullet through your head right now, I will gladly do so."
John gulped nervously. He was sweating profusely and his eyes shifted from Eric to Ziva before his gaze finally rested on Gibbs. The agent's cool stare was the last straw, and John broke down. He dropped the gun and kicked it away from himself, then got down on his knees. He placed his hands in the air as a sign of surrender, and hung his head in defeat. Tears slid down his cheeks as he realized he was going back to jail, and Gibbs took no small amount of joy in the fact that John was going pay for his crimes.
As soon as John's knees hit the ground, Gibbs stepped forward and arrested him. He was able to see Ziva fighting back tears from the corner of his eye, but knew he couldn't comfort her until John and Eric were properly secured. His disarming them would have meant nothing if he let his guard down and allowed them to retrieve their weapons, all so that he could comfort his daughter.
As soon as John and Eric were secured, then, Gibbs motioned for Ziva to get up. She immediately did so, and then proceeded to launch herself at her father. Gibbs wrapped Ziva in what he hoped to be a comforting hug, but didn't forget to keep a watchful eye on the two thieves. Both hung their heads in shame—not in regret of what they'd done, but out of regret that they had been caught, Gibbs knew—and both were sent down to the police station when two armed officers arrived on scene. After questioning the officers, Gibbs learned that the victim's "distressed husband" had called several minutes earlier, explaining that he feared his wife was in danger and needed to cops to check up on her.
Gibbs noticed the way that Ziva stiffened when Tony was mentioned, but decided to let it pass. She had been through a lot in the past twenty-four hours, and needed to rest rather than interrogated about the uncertainties of her marriage. Gibbs pulled Ziva into a tighter hug and knew he'd made the right decision. He could ask her about Tony tomorrow, but for the moment, she needed nothing more than a comforting embrace from her father.
"Ziver." Ziva lifted her head from her father's chest and looked him in the eyes. She was clearly fighting back tears, and Gibbs sighed. "It's okay to cry, Ziver."
Ziva nodded, but refused to give into the temptation. If there was one thing she prided herself on, it was being a strong woman, and strong women didn't cry. Even with all that life had thrown at her in the past few years of her life—the loss of her family, the discovery of a severe heart condition, the loss of her memory, and, Ziva felt, her identity along with it—she had barely ever cried. Even when cruel kids at school deemed her a terrorist and excluded her from everything she did not cry. Neither did she plan on crying now.
"I'm proud of you, you know." Ziva looked up in surprise at Gibbs. Her father's voice was uncharacteristically soft as he continued, "You're not my biological daughter but I couldn't love you anymore if you were. You're the strongest person I know—probably even stronger than your mother and myself. You've been through a lot and you've barely ever complained. You've faced the demons that follow you around everywhere and refused to let your troubles get the best of you. Rather than letting yourself give up—like so many other people I know would have if they were in your situation—you've overcome every single problem life has thrown at you, and I've proud of you for it. You've gotten over everything in the past, and you'll get over this too. You're a fighter Ziva, but even fighters need help sometimes. No one can face every battle on their own, and you're lucky enough to have others who love you and who are willing to help you. Don't reject our help because you think accepting it makes you weak. Don't refuse to cry because you think it makes you look weak. You don't need to hide your tears from me, because I know you're a strong woman. I've seen the proof with my own eyes."
Ziva looked up at her father in surprise. She knew that he found it difficult to tell others how he felt, and the fact that he had just forced himself to do so for her meant more than she could say. Her father—because in Ziva's eyes, whether they were biologically related or not, Gibbs was her father—was typically a man of few words. The way he'd put himself out there for her and tell her so openly that he loved her and that he was proud of her was almost too much for Ziva. She blinked back tears, but then remembered his words, and, for the first time in a very long time, she allowed her tears to fall.
For several minutes, Ziva and her father sat in silence as tears streamed down her face. Gibbs seemed to realize how badly she needed to cry, and rather than make her feel awkward about it, he pulled her to her feet and held her closely against his chest. When Ziva was finally finished, she pulled back and forced a smile on her face. After wiping the remaining tears from her eyes, she thanked her father, who merely nodded.
Gibbs knew how badly Ziva had needed that cry—how badly she'd needed to release all her pent-up emotions and frustrations. He had felt the same way after his first wife and daughter had died. He'd tried to remain strong for so long, but doing so had only hurt him. The emotions that he'd forced himself to keep inside had been tearing away at him until one night, he finally broke down on his bed and wept. Gibbs had never told anyone about that night—he was far too embarrassed—but watching Ziva now he knew that he had no reason to be. Sometimes a good cry was all someone needed to help them overcome the difficulties they were facing. Sometimes, all that emotion just has to be released. Gibbs remembered how much better he had felt after he'd cried—he had felt cleansed, somehow—and judging by the look on Ziva's face at the moment, he was certain she was currently feeling the same.
Gibbs could see the relief in his daughter's eyes. They both knew that her troubles were not over, but maybe now she'd finally be able to move on, rather than dwell on the past.
"Ziver," Gibbs began, and Ziva looked up at him, "I'm going to have to go to the police station to write a report, the police are going to want your testimony too. Are you up to it tonight, or do you want to wait until later?"
Ziva shook her head confidently, "I'm fine to do it tonight. Years of living with you have taught me that it's always best to give an account as early as possible, when the memory and its details are still fresh."
Ziva smiled at Gibbs playfully, and he was glad to see that her spirits were back up. Gibbs smirked in response, but said nothing. Instead, he ushered his daughter out the door. He covered her with his jacket as the cold night air greeted them outside, and led her to his car. Once inside, he was just about to start the engine when Ziva turned to him, curiously.
"How did you know to come to the house?"
Gibbs was expecting the question—he'd have wanted to know the same if he were in her position—and had an answer ready immediately. "Gut feeling."
Ziva smirked and rolled her eyes, but Gibbs knew she was thankful. He waited a minute before continuing, "I woke up, unable to explain why for a couple minutes, and then I suddenly knew—you were in trouble. I didn't know what kind of trouble, but I knew that it was bad. When your mother woke up and told me she had the same feeling I knew that it was serious," Gibbs flashed Ziva one of his rare grins, "your mother has always had a terrible gut, so when even she knows that something is wrong, it's serious."
Ziva rolled her eyes, but didn't argue. Rather, she Gibbs finish.
"She wanted to come with me, but I wouldn't hear it. I told her you probably didn't have time for us to argue over whether or not she should come with, and that I would win the argument anyways, so she should stay home while I went to check on you. Unsurprisingly, that didn't convince her, so I told her that she had to stay home in case you called for help, and that did the trick. Then, I just grabbed my gun and my car keys and got here as quickly as I could. I saw that the window was broken and knew that my gut had been right, so I stepped through the window and tried not to make any noise as I made my way towards your bedroom, where I heard the two idiots arguing over what to do with you."
Ziva nodded as her father finished, and then gave him her own account of the night's events. She knew from the way that his knuckles whitened as he gripped the steering wheel with increasing intensity that Gibbs wanted to make the two men who had threatened her life suffer, and to be honest, she was amazed at the restraint he showed in not shooting them. If she had to guess, however, she would have said that he showed said restraint for her. He didn't want her to see him shoot a man unless it was absolutely necessary. Even his decision not to harm the men was an effort to protect her.
Ziva, of course, knew that she didn't need her father's protection, but she also knew that Gibbs would give it nonetheless. It was a father thing. Gibbs knew that Ziva was a grown woman, completely capable of taking care of herself, but he also knew that she was his little girl, and he would do anything for her.
Author's note: Okay, so I have a LOT of explaining to do, I know. I feel like a major jerk for taking such a long time to update, and I'm sorry for all those who have been waiting for me to do so. It makes me feel worse that I hate it when writers do what I've done and just neglect a story for so long. So, if a lot of you have given up on this story, I completely understand and do not blame you one bit.
I'm not blaming anyone, but I want you guys to understand why it took me so long to update: I recieved a couple flames that were especially cruel (I won't give out names, but two people actually threatened me, and it's safe to say that that really turned me off of fanfiction and writing for a long time. I tried writing this chapter a lot, but found that I couldn't. The flames had actually scared me (as ridiculous as it sounds) and one person sent me a message and threatened me with a knife and also threatened my family, all because I left you guys with a cliffhanger. I'm sorry to those people who get annoyed with the way I sometimes end my chapters, but I have to say that (1) I do not always try to end chapters that way, sometimes it just happens and (2) I have always thought of cliffhangers as a great method of building up suspense and increasing anticipation for the next chapter. I'm sorry if you disagree, but you don't have to read my stories if you don't like them, and I don't think that not liking the way I write gives you any right to threaten my personal safety. A joking comment is one thing, but a serious threat is another, and I don't appreciate them. I can take criticism, but death threats are way out of line.
So, yeah. That really turned me off of writing for a long time, and I admit that I was actually scared, even though I knew that the people making those threats couldn't actually hurt me because they didn't know where I lived. I'd just never been talked to that way before. That, of course, on top of life getting busy (I'm a senior in high school who, not to brag, is a good student so I take hard classes, but this means I get a lot of homework. Also, I've had to apply to universities, work to pay for university, etc) has prevented me from updating sooner. Again, I am VERY sorry to the innocent people who did nothing wrong but still had to wait several months for this chapter. I will update as soon as I can.
PS. Thanks to all the loyal readers who have stuck with this story and my others. I really appreciate you guys, so thanks! I know this chapter is short, but content-wise it made sense to end it here, plus I really wanted to get a new chapter up for those who have waited patiently for so long.