Truth or Consequences was a gorgeous episode... and I couldn't imagine Tony leaving Ziva for weeks without having given her a semi-proper "welcome back" or at least an "I can't believe you're really here", based on his obvious need for her in that episode. So here's my take on a missing scene a few hours after the cameras stopped rolling.


She was silent.

Amidst the bustle of nurses and doctors, ringing telephones, and steady heart monitors, it was easy to forget the odd quiet permeating the air around the four team members. It was relatively normal after such a traumatic experience - and anyway, Tim had thanked the doctor attending to them, Gibbs had asked him how his team was doing, and Tony, appalled by the sheer number of needles poking into him, had even mumbled a few words.

Ziva had still said none.

Tony wasn't entirely sure if anyone else had noticed - well, Gibbs probably had, just because he was Gibbs, and it had probably crossed Tim's mind... but Tony couldn't get it out of his mind, maybe due to the amount of time his eyes had spent on her since they'd returned. He thought it was expected, that they all couldn't stop looking at her because, well, they were still stunned to see her here. Alive. Had he not been so engrossed in his observation, he would have noticed that Tim was giving him an odd look every so often and Gibbs had his eyebrow raised. No, Tony was too bent on the fact that she had still not said one word since trying to save the rest of them at the expense of her life back in that cell. It made her seem like a ghost. Like she wasn't really here.


He was staring at a picture. She never turned her head, never moved at all. He thought he was simply looking over and over again at an instant in time... so he missed Gibbs telling the junior agent to take the rest of the week off, missed the activity dwindling, the majority of the lights shutting off for the night. One second he'd sat down on the bed for examination and the next he was being tapped on the shoulder by a tired Gibbs.

"Get some sleep."

Finally, Tony's eyes turned to the doorway where a doctor waited to take him to another room. He had apparently decided that he needed to stay overnight to make sure the drugs had been flushed from his system; Ziva would stay as well in the next room over. Tony rose and walked toward the doctor, turning back to see Gibbs leaning on a bed and Ziva still sitting, an apparition shrouded in darkness.

The trip to his room was made on autopilot. Time had folded and he suddenly found himself under crisp, white sheets, room dark, body leaden and more than ready to succumb to unconsciousness.


Something was changing.

Saleem had up and left the room with little forewarning after realizing his faux pas in covering his tracks. Tony exchanged some words with McGee and before he knew it, the terrorist had reentered with a guest. It couldn't be possible. Tony wasn't sure who it was beneath that black bag but he knew who he wanted it to be. Who he hoped it was. Who it had to be. That sarcastic, apathetic facade broke down and he forgot about caring that he'd plastered his emotions on his face for his enemies to see. All that mattered was seeing her - because it was her - and her face again as soon as he possibly could.

The bag came off.

He had the feeling their gazes has been locked before she could even see what was in front of her nose. Noise dwindled out of earshot and the door closed again and now that he could see her, Tony was dying to hear her voice.

"Out of everyone in the world who could have found me, it had to be you."

Ah, yes. There it was.

"You're welcome." And suddenly he found himself scared. Scared that she still didn't forgive him. Scared that the last thing she wanted in front of her was him. "So, you glad to see me?"

At first, he took her adamant statement that he shouldn't be here personally... until he realized she simply didn't want to leave. Thought she deserved to stay. Now, that fact was scaring him more than anything - he needed to convince her that she had to make it because it was going to be difficult enough to get them all out without one of them not having the same goal. He wanted to take her shoulders and lightly shake some sense into them; he wanted to let her know he'd done all of this to get her back with a finger gently wiping off that one traitorous tear. Her voice wasn't enough anymore and he needed her touch. The bindings digging into his wrists had never hurt so much.

And then they escaped.

He had first contact with her then - since being ninja-ed down onto an Israeli tarmac - dragging each other and themselves down the hallways, but it was only partial. Insufficient. He was merely guiding her along, not holding on tightly enough to make sure that a part of her wasn't trailing behind, that a piece of her wouldn't stay within that camp.

He awoke with a start.

The scent and chill of the room simply screamed hospital, so it didn't take him long to figure out where he was. What confused him was the emptiness around him. Surely, had his memories been real, he would have stayed with Ziva. Wouldn't have left her alone. The thought sent panic through him. Maybe it had merely been a dream...

Legs shooting out from beneath the covers, Tony got up, bare feet receiving a shock from the frigid linoleum flooring. He stopped momentarily at the pull from the IV and turned, quickly dragging the drip along as he walked out the door.

There was no room to his left so he strode into the one on his right, halting at the sight of the empty bed. His eyes shot to the slit of light at a far corner of the room and he made his way toward it. All he needed was to see her...

"Ziva?" He knocked lightly on the door. "Ziva?" This time, the query was a bit more urgent. For a second, he wondered whether he would be walking in on some stranger... but the thought didn't remain long. He couldn't be sure who was in there, but it had to be her. He slowly opened the door leading to the tiny bathroom. There was no one in the shower or on the toilet, just one still figure with dirty curls and a white gown that looked remarkably like one of Abby's, staring at nothing and at herself in the mirror. She didn't even blink at his entrance and he remembered his earlier wondering at the ghostly person he wasn't even sure was there. The image gave him chills. If it hadn't been for the drip by her side as well, seeming to ground her there, he would have walked off and signed himself into the psychiatric ward. He wanted her here so much... he wouldn't put it past himself to simply imagine her existence at this point. After all he'd done...

"Ziva." At least if she would speak, it would assuage his mind. He didn't really understand his own logic, but he thought he'd earned the right to be paranoid after what they'd been through. He shifted uneasily, fingers gripping the cold steel of his drip on wheels a bit tighter. "I'm glad you're back," he whispered.

At long last, she turned around, brown eyes finding his, but she still said nothing. Tony found himself battling the urge to touch her - a battle he lost before it had ever truly begun. Of its own volition, his hand rose and fingered a strand of her hair before pulling back; however, if anything, the gentle brush had only intensified his desire to feel her more - to grasp at the body that felt as if it were fading away. Ziva was still locked into his gaze and Tony lost the battle again; he reached in and hugged her as if his life depended on it. His sanity did, in any case.

The panic and uncertainty that had nibbled away at his mind melted entirely. Ziva was here. Ziva was really here and the proof of that was the warmth within his embrace. The breath he hadn't remembered holding in found release once her own arms reached up and found their way around his torso. They both sank into each other as Tony fought back the liquid that was finding its way down his face. He thought for a second about his attempts to have her speak before he realized it wasn't a word he was waiting for. It was this.

"I'm glad you're back." Tony felt that it needed to be said one more time. Her grip on him tightened and she was silent. But maybe, Tony thought, right now they didn't need to speak at all.


Merry Christmas!