She could not remember what had made her come up here the first time. The details were blurry. She knew it had been raining, but only because she was soaked to the skin when she eventually went back down. She did not know how long she had stood there, faced turned into the drenching elements, wind whipping her hair about head and sticking it to her neck. For some reason, the numbing rain was the thing that helped her be able to feel alive.
Perhaps it was because the last time she had been in a storm, rejected and used, another part of her had 'died'. Again.
So it was only natural that another storm, half a world away, would be the thing to begin her healing. Would begin to cleanse her as the water and wind drove out the dirt and debris that had built up inside. The cold blasted the lingering pain and made it real, grounded her. She did not mind the cold. It was the complete antithesis of her homeland and her prison. She tried not to think about how the first had become more like the latter over the years.
She could not really remember what had made her come up here the second time. Almost a week later, she found herself lying on the asphalt, still warm from the day's sunshine. The stars, paled by the city lights, stood their vigil against the black sky. The half moon glowed gently against the darkness. The clouds drifting across its path would become glowing and full of light before they continued on their way.
She was one of those clouds. She knew now that this was the place where she was her best. This place was where she could shine. She was moulded to be a spy, to work alone. But she was created to be an investigator, part of a team. Part of a family.
She had made it through her first case and begun to earn her place on the team again. She knew it would take time and she promised herself that she would not to take it for granted, even for a moment. And not because it was one of the rules.
She held her breath as someone approached her and lay beside her. Close enough to feel their warmth down her left side, but far enough to ensure her comfort. She was grateful for this. She reached out, fingers searching for fingers and gripping tightly as they found what they were looking for.
"Hi," he whispered.
"Hi," she smiled towards the sky.
"This is new," he said appreciatively. She was different. Still recovering of course but fundamentally different now. At ease with herself. All false bravado was gone.
She breathed in the smell of him, clean and fresh and unique. One of the many things about her friends which had begun to fade to distant memories. The shade of Abby's favourite lipstick and the feel of her hugs. The hint of coffee that lingered around Gibbs. The excitement in McGee's voice when he explained anything technical. Sights, smells, sounds, touch. Things she would never again take for granted.
"It is," she replied. "Did you come over for a reason? How did you find me up here?"
"It is what you do for a friend," he said simply. Like following her memory across the globe had been nothing more than a walk to the corner store.
"Not everyone would…" she objected, his modesty unable to cover the crashing emotions he had gone through.
"It is what I do."
They lay in silence, suspended in a moment with the warm roof at their backs and warm hands connecting two confused souls.
She wanted to explain, to help him understand what had happened to her but she could not. It was too soon. She did not yet understand it herself.
"I never realized how beautiful the sky is," she began. "The moon, the stars. They are always there, night after night but you do not think of them as anything more than a navigation aid. Until you can no longer see them. The moon is strong and holds its place. The stars are faded against the city lights but as people go to sleep they will grow stronger."
"It just takes time," his grip on her hand tightened. He could not begin to express how grateful he was that she was thinking these things. Positive things. Healing things.
"When I was at school, or prison as I liked to call it, I used to sneak up to the roof and watch the clouds," he admitted. "It was a game I played. During the day I would spend hours looking for shapes. At first every one looked like a fluffy white bunny, usually the kind with a bowtie. But over the years they got more detailed, more abstract. It made me feel so…"
"Free," she finished. He understood. Somehow, he had always understood. "We used to do the same thing in the summer. Tali and I," she whispered. "We never agreed on what they shapes were. She would see an elephant I would see an aircraft."
"You would," he laughed lighty.
"One day we agreed," she continued. "I was ten. We were lost and Tali was scared. I had dropped my compass and we did not know the way back to the house. She began to panic and then we saw it. A cloud that looked exactly like Israel. It was perfect, unmistakable. It was home."
Ziva rolled onto her side to face her partner, their hands still joined, his thumb gently rubbing along hers. She considered his profile. Strong brow, defined nose, full lips. Eyes which smiled a little less than they used to. She burned the image in her mind, filing it away with his smell and the sound of his voice.
"It is harder to play at night, but it is possible," he mused. He turned his head and looked her in the eye. "What do you see?"
"What do I see?" she repeated, holding his gaze intensely, the clouds forgotten in the sky. "I see forgiveness. I see hope. I see my family. And I see home."