A/N--I wouldn't call this a SongFic, but this piece is inspired by Steve Conte's "No Reply", a gorgeous song that really seemed to fit the situation post-"Aliyah" through "Reunion" (.com/watch?v=4Nd13Ob9Bgc). I have to admit that at some points, this piece is borderline bleak, but I think it suits Tony and Ziva's thoughts pretty well during this time, so I make no apologies for that; I just hope it isn't on the angsty side. Also, just like in my oneshot "Not a Present", I played with parallelism again because it so interesting to use in regards to Tony and Ziva. Hopefully this short story gives some insight into both of them for for this very dark time in their lives.
The days blur together. The terrorists (all of them men) blur together. The beatings blur together. There is no more sense of time for me. Because, really, what use do I have for "time" here? I have long since ignored the rising and falling of the sun and have instead opted for a sense of indifference. Numbness. This lack of feeling does not make the pain leave any faster or allow me to fall into fitful, short-lived dreams any better, but it does help me cope.
Why, though? Why find ways to deal with this situation if there is no point? To what end am I coping for? There have been no replies, no attempts to reclaim me. I do not know how much time has passed, but I do know it has been long enough. Long enough to formulate and attempt a mission to pull me from this place. But I have neither seen nor heard anything to support this. Not from Mossad, not from my father.
As the bodies of the concept of Time pile themselves around me, I can do nothing but think. Think about what I had done. Think about what I had dedicated my life to. But I have been sitting here, and I have no answers. And I do not find them either.
What was all this for? What have I been fighting for all this time? I once thought I was doing this for the weak. I was fighting the wrong to protect the innocent. But what does my being here accomplish? Has it all just been a waste?
When the beatings first began, my dreams here consisted mainly of thoughts of my homeland. My organization. My father. But as the life and hope were slowly drained from me with every fist to my already-bruised face and every kick to my already-cracked ribs, I gave up thinking of these things. They were not coming for me. He was not coming for me. I was abandoned, left to rot and suffer the daily torments of these faceless men.
So I occupy my mind with thoughts of, what I perceive, as happier times, places, and people. The past four years. NCIS. Gibbs, Abby, McGee, Ducky, Jimmy... And Tony. These memories have inevitably become tainted with regret and anger towards myself. Regret for what I had lost. Anger for the fact that I had done this to myself.
I had been foolish and stubborn, too prideful to admit my wrongs and shortcomings. I was never willing to apologize or accept the apologies of the man who had been my partner for the entire length of the time I spent as Mossad Liaison Officer. And now I will never have that chance. For there has been only silence. There are no replies to be heard, and I have no hope left to hold onto.
The days blur together. The new applicants (all of them women) blur together. The cases blur together. There's no sense of time for me anymore. A meth addict here, a dead sailor there. What's the point in keeping track of time when there are no meaningful landmarks to base it around?
It's amazing how two words can change everything. Two words can almost completely destroy your world and the hope you'd been holding out for. "No survivors." She was gone, and my daily life transformed itself into a meaningless haze.
Computer stuff. Autopsy reports. Words, things, stuff, and emotions. None of it made sense to me. And it didn't really matter that it didn't make sense to me. An essential piece was missing. And I couldn't find it. I failed to find it. I tried to bring her back, but I tried too late. I could have tried earlier, and I should have tried harder. Could have. Should have. Past-tense. I missed my chance. Now all I feel is sorry for myself and angry at myself. Sorry for what I'd let go of, and angry that it was all my fault.
I knew Michael Rivkin couldn't be trusted. I knew he was using Ziva for her father's gain. But maybe I should have handled it differently. What if I had brought back-up? What if I had just aimed to wound, not kill? What if? What if? My mind's full of nothing but "What if's".
After I returned from Israel, I would sometimes flip open my phone and just look at Ziva's name listed in my contacts. But I would never call. I was always stopped by her anger, my anger, her regret, my regret. I would wait for her to decide when, or even if, she was ready to move toward reconciliation. But there was never a reply.
Then came the Two Words. And everything changed. Sometimes I flip open my phone and just look at Ziva's name listed in my contacts. And I do call. I call, and all I hear is the cold, robotic voice of the machine-woman saying, "We're sorry. The number you have dialed is out of service, or the phone is out of range. Please try again lat-". And I always hang up before she finishes. Because there is no "later", and I cannot "try again." There's only silence after I close my phone. There are no replies coming from her, and I'm no longer hoping for any either.
The torture has dropped in its severity. Nonetheless, it continues to come like clockwork, the only thing I can count on to regularly occur. Today, however, was different somehow. Through my muddled mind, I sense a preoccupation among the men. They are distracted with something else, not that I can hardly complain. I take it for what it is worth as I lie on the floor, staring at the dust motes as they float through the air.
As I dazedly watch the swirling particles, I think of the commotion I heard outside earlier. Muffled yells, muffled impacts. None of it particularly distinguishable from the whistle of the wind as it passed over the forlorn structures in the middle of this lifeless desert. Perhaps it was just a scuffle amongst the men here. It is inevitable that fights occur from time to time. They are stuck here almost as much as I am, though, unlike me, they have ways to channel their frustrations. And these means mainly concern me.
There is silence for a while. Some sounds drift my way from another part of the building, but I cannot discern any of them. It is only meaningless noise to me as I drift in and out of consciousness.
Some time later, I hear a yell of frustration from another cell. And this voice I do place. By now, I could differentiate Salim from the rest. And I have heard this ill-contained outburst before. Many times before as I refuse to give the information he so very much wants. A very brief moment later, and he bursts through the door, his face livid. I quickly brace myself, put up my walls in defense for what I know is coming.
But this is a day of surprises. He does not kick or punch me. Instead, he roughly jams a black bag over my head and drags me to my feet. He pulls me along by my shoulders as I heedlessly follow. There is only blackness as I am steered toward what I can only think of as a welcomed or dreaded release from this place. I cannot decide.
Salim's been having his fun with me for the past few hours. I've had an injection and plenty of fists to my jaw. I've become his own personal punching bag for now. And I'm pretty sure he's been enjoying it. He likes watching me squirm as I fight the effects of the truth serum he's given me. And it burns like hell.
But as I take his beatings and spill my guts, I take solace in the fact that he'll be dead soon. If everything goes to plan. I've been lucky; I was expecting worse, but so far, Salim's been rather..."civil" with me up to this point. But I'm about to destroy that civility, and I'm going to enjoy it. It's time to see how well he takes his own mistakes.
"You had to have your Caf-Pow, didn'tcha?" Score one for me. Now he's really angry. At least he didn't throw that bottle at me or McGee. He storms from the room, giving orders that I can't understand. I briefly speak to my partner in Salim's absence. I just hope I've made the right call; this can turn out really badly if I'm not careful.
Salim returns, only this time, he's not alone. He drags in a petite, somewhat-short frame with a bag over their head. It couldn't be...
I feel myself pushed into a worn, wooden chair, creaking as my slight weight settles on it. Salim is giving an ultimatum. But to whom? My numb curiosity from earlier has turned into sheer bewilderment. This is well out of what would be considered "The Norm" for me here. Light floods my eyes as the bag is unceremoniously pulled from my head, returning me to this world at least once more.
She sits there, a look of confusion and amazement on her face. A reply at last.
He sits there, a look of confusion and amazement on his face. A reply at last.
A/N--Surprise, this is actually not a oneshot; I plan on writing another chapter to this because the song conveys both regret and hopefulness. This first chapter is obviously the Regret, so the next chapter will be the Hope. I'm not sure when I'll be able to write it (work's getting in the way), but hopefully I'll have it posted sometime within the next few days. Until then, please review, and happy reading :)