Hell and High Water

Wow, Ziva seemed to bounce right back after being tortured for months, didn't she? Since the show unrealistically devoted so little time to her recovery, this is my take on how she got over her captivity in Somalia so fast. Ziva went through hell, but there are waters that wash it away.

The characters break down like this: Chapters 1, 3, and 5 are Friendship!Ziva/Abby. Chapter 2 is Ziva-centric. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are Tony/Ziva, and I tried to write their interaction so that it could be taken either as friendship (which is how I prefer them) or romance.

This is the first real fanfic I've ever written (seriously). I'm very excited and proud but also very nervous. Reviews are not only welcome – they're made of gold and fairy dust and win. And for those who don't know the expression, "come hell or high water" is an American idiom meaning "no matter what."

Chapter 1
A Favor

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
'Twas grace that brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
— John Newton, Amazing Grace.

Ziva practically flies down the stairs to the lab, hoping Abby hasn't already left for the day. She almost never takes the elevator anymore – there's been enough of standing still, and small enclosed spaces, and waiting – and she relishes the fast, free feeling of rushing downstairs two or three steps at a time. There are so many little things that she relishes now. That's she grateful for. How is it possible that she never noticed them before?

As the doors slide open, she finds Abby still in her lab, and in her element: her pigtails bouncing as she dances in place to the blaring music. She's fiddling with her mass spectrometer – and talking to the machine too, it seems; Ziva can see her lips moving but can't hear anything over the music. When she starts twisting her head in time to the beat, she notices Ziva and twists down the volume knob.

"Oh, hey, Ziva!" she says brightly. "I didn't think anyone else was still here. I was just getting Major Mass Spec here shut down for the night." She taps the machine and coos to it as if it's a baby, "Yes, I was, wasn't I?"

There's a pause, and even though Ziva's been rehearsing what to say in her head all day, she can't quite get the words out. When she doesn't speak or move, Abby looks concerned. "What's up?" she asks, taking a step towards her.

And just then, Ziva almost goes back to her old nervous habit of touching her Star of David necklace – but she catches herself just in time. Her hands are itching to go to her throat, but she forces them to stay still. It's not there anymore, she reminds them, and she suddenly wishes she had brought a pen, a slip of paper – anything – with her from her desk, just so her hands would have something to hold onto.

"Abby, I came to ask you... for a really big favor." That part is easy enough.

"Well..." Abby looks hesitant. "What is it? I mean, normally, I would just say yes, but see, the last time somebody asked me for a favor and I said yes without finding out what the favor was first, I spent all of last Saturday helping McGee rearrange the furniture in his apartment. And you would not believe how OCD Tim can be sometimes."

Ziva smiles at that. "I promise I will not ask you to help rearrange my furniture. The favor I need from you..." She pauses to remind herself that this is Abby, after all, who plays with voodoo dolls and sleeps in a coffin and has certainly heard stranger things than what Ziva's about to say. "...is basically to come with me while I take a bath."

She watches Abby closely for her reaction, but Abby just seems a little surprised, nothing worse. She smiles and says lightly, almost as if she could read Ziva's mind, "Wow, were you trying to word that in a way so it didn't sound weird?"

"Did it work?"


Ziva bites her lip. "Well, perhaps I can explain it in a way that does not sound weird. It is called a mikvah. It is a Jewish ritual. A way of... purifying your body." She looks Abby in the eye as she says this, hoping her friend will understand all the things she isn't saying, like why her body needs to be purified, and what happened to her in Somalia, and how much she really needs this favor from Abby. All the things she can't say out loud.

Abby does seem to understand; she smiles, even though her eyes seem sad, and puts a hand on Ziva's shoulder. "Come sit down," she says, leading her to the couch in the back corner of her lap. They both sit down, and Abby plops her stuffed hippo into Ziva's lap. "Here, you can hold Bert. He likes you, you know." Even as a child, Ziva was never a real fan of things like stuffed animals, but it's a relief to have something to do with her hands. Before she can say anything, Abby goes on, "So tell me about a... what's it called? A mikvah?"

Ziva sums up the process as best she can. It's usually done at a temple or synagogue, where there are small pools built specifically for mikvah. Abby asks, "Oh, you mean like a baptismal pool?" and she says yes, even though, from the little she knows about Christianity, it's not really like a baptismal pool. A mikvah pool is secluded from the rest of the synagogue, because it requires you to be completely submerged in the water – and completely naked. Ziva tells Abby a woman from the synagogue will be there to make sure everything is done correctly.

"Well, then, what do you need me for?" Abby asks, looking a little puzzled. "I mean, I'm not even Jewish."

Ziva blinks and looks away, first down at the ridiculous stuffed hippo in her lap, then out the window, to the shoes of people passing by outside. No matter what time of day she visits Abby's lab, the windows are almost always full of people's legs, all walking past on their way to somewhere else. No matter what happens to her or the rest of her team, people go on with their lives. The world keeps turning.

Finally, she looks back at Abby and gets out, faintly, "I do not really need you, Abby, but... I just did not want to go alone."

Abby's eyes are suddenly very bright, as if with unshed tears, but her smile is even brighter, and she leans over and hugs Ziva hard. Ziva hears her reply, from over her shoulder, "Ziva, I'd be honored to come with you. Really honored."

How is it possible that one of Abby's hugs never felt so welcome before?

The next chapter will be better, I promise. This is my first fic, after all. If you're not familiar with mikvah, I know the process might seem strange. But in fact, mikvah is a very beautiful and spiritual thing.