Don't Break the Dream
Disclaimer: All names and trademarks recognised as "NCIS" do not belong to me; I've just borrowed the characters for my own purpose. The title comes from the wonderful Rebecca Lavelle song "Broken Dreams" from the show McLeod's Daughters.
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Fluff, Angst, Episode Tag
Warnings: Spoilers for 7x01 Truth or Consequences
Summary: Ziva and Tim go for a walk after the events of 7x01 Truth or Consequences.
A/N For smackalicious with the prompt: Ziva David / Timothy McGee / walk for a minute.
"Thought I might find you here."
Ziva David opened her eyes with a start. She blinked twice and the murky figure of her co-worker slowly came into focus. Her back rested against the hard trunk of an oak tree, but her hands were clenched at her side.
"McGee," she replied smoothly, nodding once. He had startled her, frightened her even, but she wasn't about to let him know that. "What are you doing here?" She tried a joke. "Are you stalking me?"
It failed. Tim winced harshly and Ziva immediately felt bad. The stark reminders of their – incident – in Somalia were still evident on his skin. "I apologise," Ziva said softly. "That was insensitive of me."
Tim shrugged and stepped closer to Ziva, so that he was just resting outside her personal space. And for that, Ziva was grateful. He shrugged again and said, "You've been running the same route for years."
"Right." Well, this was just a little awkward, Ziva thought. So she said, falling back into familiar territory, "Are we needed back at work?"
Shaking his head, Tim murmured, "No." He paused. "I . . ." Tim stumbled over the words. ". . . I just wanted to see if – if you were okay." He tried to give her a smile, but it didn't quite work so he glanced down at the ground, shuffling his feet.
Ziva was touched. It had been less than twenty-four hours since they'd touched down in Washington DC and even less since they had been debriefed and sent home. She would have thought the others would have been sleeping the day away.
(She would too, but the memories are still fresh and she doesn't care to revisit her captivity just yet.)
"Shall we . . . walk?" she asked Tim. She wants out of his uncomfortable silence and she'd always found being physical dulled the senses.
"Um, sure. If you want," Tim replied, quickly adding the last part of his statement. "Sure. Okay. Walking is good." He was babbling, so Tim clamped his lips together and tried not to put his foot in it.
"Okay." Ziva pushed herself off the tree and wobbled for a moment. There had not been many times in Somalia to properly exercise so she was still a little wobbly on her feet. Immediately, Tim reached out and grasped her shoulder to steady her.
"Thank you," Ziva replied, embarrassed. She ducked out from under his hand and started walking briskly.
Tim watched her walk away for a couple of moments. She was thinner and looked simultaneously younger and older than she had before she'd left NCIS. It was rather heartbreaking. Shaking his head, Tim hurried after her. He caught up with her easily, though his head pounded a little. He was covered in little reminders of their – incident – in Somalia.
"I thought you were dead," he blurted out suddenly, after they had walked a little way. He had no idea where that had come from. "We all did."
Ziva gave him a soft look. "I am not surprised." What she didn't say was that she often thought the same thing.
"But then you weren't," he continued, blurting out words quicker than he could censor them. "Suddenly, you were just . . . there." He laughed weakly. "I thought we were going there to avenge you, not save you."
"I don't need avenging," Ziva replied sharply. "Not like that." She cocked her head to the side and mused, "I did need a little saving, though."
Tim managed a bit of a grin. "Yeah," he echoed. "We all did, in the end." He trailed off again and felt awkward in a way he hadn't since Ziva had first joined the team.
"Yes, I think we did." She gave him a look that Tim couldn't quite decipher. "Luckily we have Gibbs to save the day."
"Yeah," Tim echoed again. He tried not to think about would have happened if Gibbs hadn't been able to come through in the end. Tim shuddered at the thought.
"Are you okay?" Ziva turned his question back on him.
He must have shuddered physically, rather than metaphorically. "I'm okay."
Ziva paused and stood still for a moment. She studied his face, as though she was mapping all the little cuts and bruises. Then she stepped forward and lightly touched a bruise on his cheek. "Did it hurt much?" she asked softly.
Tim shrugged, shivering under her touch. "It's all a bit hazy, really. I don't really remember. But I think so, yes." He had been trying not to think about it.
"I am not surprised." Ziva let her hand drop away from his face. She started walking again, though this time slower than before. "I was ready to die," she said suddenly and so softly that Tim thought he'd misheard her at first.
"What?" It was rude and insensitive, but it just came out. He vaguely remembered Tony and Ziva talking about something back in Somalia, but he'd been a bit foggy at the time so he didn't really know.
"At the camp," she explained, just as softly. "I honestly did not think I was getting a twelfth hour rescue."
"Eleventh hour," Tim corrected absentmindedly. "Eleventh hour rescue." He was a little cross now. "Did you really just give up?" It came out harsher than he had intended it.
"I was realistic," Ziva replied simply. "And I was dead."
"But you're not," Tim said firmly. "You're not dead. You're here with me . . . us. You're with us and you don't look dead to me."
"You are right." Ziva shook her head to clear herself of the thought, but Tim almost thought he could detect the slightest bit of bitterness hidden within her words. She shrugged offhandedly. "It is in the past."
(Not really, but neither said the words out loud.)
Ziva sighed and almost stumbled over to a wooden park bench. She was starting to ache again. Months being held prisoner was not kind on the body. Tim followed her over and sat down next to her, leaving a bit of space between them.
"You okay?" he tried again, wondering if he'd get an answer this time.
Ziva opened her mouth to utter the immortal words "I'm fine" but then she closed it again. She wasn't fine. Tim wasn't fine. None of them were fine. "It hurts," she finally decided on. And she didn't need to say what exactly hurt because Tim got it.
"It does, doesn't it," he replied softly, scooting over so that they were practically thigh to thigh. "It'll get better." He rested the palm of his hand on her leg. She flinched slightly, but then covered his hand with hers.
Tim nodded and picked up her hand so he could squeeze it gently. "It will. I promise. It might take a bit, but we'll get there – all of us." He pushed a strand of hair from her eyes, took in her battered face and hurt eyes, and told himself very firmly that this was not the time for an impulsive kiss, no matter how chaste it might have been.
Ziva had other ideas. She leant over and kissed him softly on the lips. It was quick, gentle and absolutely unromantic or sexy. But it was sweet, innocent and conveyed more than words could.
"Thank you," she said quietly, resting her head on his shoulder. Tim stiffened for a moment, his mind was still a few moments delayed, but then he relaxed.
"No, thank you." Tim tucked a piece of Ziva's hair behind her ear. "Thank you for not dying."