Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS or any of the characters mentioned in this story. Quotes from this story are taken from NCIS episode 139: Truth or Consequences. I do not own Fireflight nor the song Forever.
A/N: This is my first FanFic, but this idea has been in my head for awhile. Enjoy.
Sometimes I get so cold
Like I'm waiting around all by myself
Loneliness gets so old
I'm on the lost and found, sitting on the shelf
She knew there was a new captive, simply because she could hear the Monster shouting. But she just tries to tune it out, because she knows that listening to the unfortunate victim's cries will not help her. But he comes to her and shoves a bag smelling of God-knows-what over her head and pushes her down a hall and to a chair. For some reason, the Monster thinks that she will sway the decision of the captive? She doesn't know.
Then he pulls the bag over her head.
No. That's not possible. It's impossible.
But there he is. Sitting across from her.
Beaten, bruised, bloody, mangled, but still there.
And she barely hears the Monster threatening them both. She's heard it all before, but knows that death will never come to the ones who deserve it.
Ones like her.
Then the Monster and his guard leave. It's silent.
She sees him watching her. Sees emotion flare in his eyes as he takes in her appearance.
She has not looked in a mirror in months, but knows what she will find.
She has been silent for far too long. "Out of all the everyone, in the world, who could have found me," she starts out, throat shadowy with misuse, "…it had to be you?"
The question is rhetorical, of course. She would have chosen no one else and everyone else to rescue her. She had hoped that by leaving her true family back in her true home, they would be spared from any danger involving her—which tends to be more intense than their normal routine.
Nevertheless, she draws her eyes from staring at the ground, and tries to focus on him—on Tony, her almost-rescuer. He licks his lips, and she realizes that they have probably not had water in the last two days.
"You're welcome." His voice, deeper and huskier than she remembers (due to dehydration), but it is the sound she longed for the most while she was…here. In Hell. "So you glad to see me?"
Again, a rhetorical question. She has ached to see him ever since she abandoned her team, but she would have prayed much more if she realized that he would end up here.
"You should not have come." Stating the obvious.
Hurt flashes across his face. "All right then. Good catching up. I'll be going now." He "tries" to stand up, but they both know that it's impossible. This joke…it's not even funny. It's so painful she wants to cry.
He settles down with a grunt. "Oh, yeah. I forgot. Taken prisoner." She opens her mouth and narrows her eyes, trying to understand how he could possibly have a sense of humor right now. They're in the middle of the damn desert, in a terrorist camp!
Without looking away from him, she speaks to the other prisoner. "Are you all right, McGee?" Anyone who knew either man would realize that if Tony was going into danger, McGee would obviously back him up. She confirmed her suspicions when the second (bruised, bloody, mangled) man in her life spoke: "I'm just glad you're alive."
She doesn't know if she's happy. What does that say about her?
Wait—"You, thought I was dead?"
He would mock her for such a straightforward question, but…instead he just nods, and she can see the blatant emotion still lingering in his eyes: relief. "Oh, oh yeah."
He doesn't elaborate, so she must ask. "Then why are you here?"
"Well, McGee, McGee didn't think you were dead—" He's stalling. What is he hiding?
"Tony." She says his name, feels it roll off her tongue. "Why, are you here?" She has to know this, for some strange reason. She just has to.
He shrugs, tries to grin. "Couldn't live without you, I guess."
Her heart would quicken at his words, but she has learned to keep her emotion buried deep.
She states his goal: "So you will die with me." She never, ever wanted that. "You should've left me alone." This is what she truly believes.
"Okay! Tried—couldn't, listen, you should know I've taken some kinda truth serum, so if there's any kinda questions you don't wanna know the answer to—"
"I did not ask for anyone, to put themselves in harm's way for me. I do not deserve it."
"So what are you doing out here? Some kind of… Monastic experience? Some kind of penance?"
She knows he's mocking her, but he responds anyway. "It is justified."
"Get over yourself." There's no hint of joking or teasing now.
"I have." Gives him a strained smile, one that shouldn't count.
It is time. She breathes in. "Now, you tell Saleem everything he wants to hear. And you try to save yourselves. I am ready to die." Her gaze, while once holding his, has dropped once again to the floor.
McGee speaks for the second time, his eyes still closed. "'S not how it works."
She turns her head slightly to the left. "How what works." It's more of a statement than a question.
He whispers. "'he plan."
He eyes widen in shock. "You have an escape plan?" A real question this time. He winks at her.
"Tony," she says, trying to make him understand, "they have thirty men, heavily armed. They have anti-tank, anti-aircraft weapons. What do you have?"
A shrug. "Well that's where things get a little tricky."
Then he explains his...she can't think of a word good enough. His plan. And she just has to check, to make sure she hears it right: "Wait…you got captured…on purpose?"
Instead of yelling at him, which will do them no good, she explains. "These men are killers, Tony." And worse.
"I know." Of course he knows. "That's why we have to stay alive long enough to not get dead."
She's finally starting to piece it together. "That would involve…being rescued."
"Yes it would."
She stays quiet, trying to get her raging emotions under control. They are pushing the gate, and if she lets them flow, they will distract her from this. Don't let yourself hope she reminds herself. It only ends badly.
But…"How long will it take?"
"I dunno. How long do you think I've been talking?"
She hisses, "What's. The plan?" This is not the time for jokes; why does only she recognize that?
"Well, we fail to contact Dubai, that gets to the carrier crew that I'm dead and they scramble after the two raptors that burn sand into glass." Another wink. "And how long that's gonna take, I don't know."
She stares at him in disbelief. Then comes the worst: "Hours, days…" Her eyes trail off again, despair settling in her stomach. He looks at her. "Ziva." Eyes back up. "Can you fight?"
Her true answer is no, but some of that stubborn defiance remains, and she stays quiet. Which is probably a good thing, as the Monster pushes the door open and walks in. She feels her heart pound just at the sight of him.
Tony, being Tony, says, "Oh, hey, Saleem. What's up, man? What's with the commotion?" She realizes there is something going on, and maybe it's not just a training excerise, as she thought.
The Monster says calmly, "Moving out." And then she sees the knife.
Tony sees it to, she's sure. "Oh, that's good; I was gettin' kinda tired of this place."
"Not taking prisoners." She blanks out for a moment to process the Monster's words, and jerks awake when he pulls her hair back on her bruised scalp and presses a crude knife to her throat. "I'm not done yet." Adrenaline is pumping into her veins, but in this case, she can neither fight nor take flight.
She has to make the Monster see reason, has to save them. "If they do not check in, their people will come looking for them."
"Ziva, shut up." His tone is deadly serious.
"Kill me," she says, breathless. "You'll need the Americans for leverage."
The Monster is very amused. "I don't make bargains."
"Do you make pizza?"
McGee suddenly kicks the Monster in the back of the knees, sending him on the hard floor and the knife out of his hands. But he has a gun. Terror strikes her, and McGee falters.
"Stop! Stop! There's something I haven't told you yet."
The Monster is still on the floor. "And what is that?" She is breathing hard and she hasn't even done anything yet. Tony, what are we going to do?
He's apparently thinking about that too. He stalls by pulling his chair forward and panting. "Well, I told you about the brains, I told you about the guns, I told you about the muscle, the scientist, politician, the leader, I told you about every member of the team, except myself." His gaze breaks from hers, and focuses on the Monster. She realizes he's scared too. "The part I play."
Saleem still has his gun pointed at McGee. Tony has to talk fast. "I'm the wild card. I'm the guy who looks at the reality in front of him and refuses to accept it. Like right now, I should be terrified, right? But I'm not." Her mind screams even as her body freezes. "'Cuz I just can't stop thinking about the movie True Lies. You know, where Arnie is strapped to the chair shot full of truth serum? Picks his cuffs, kills everybody." He swallows, building up the big finish. "You have thirty seconds to live, Saleem." Her eyebrows draw together as she tries to figure out what his tactic is.
The Monster laughs. "You're still bound. You're lying."
Tony shakes his head. "I can't lie. I didn't say I was gonna be the one to kill ya. Remember when I told you my boss was a sniper?"
Suddenly the window shatters and a piece of metal rams into Saleem's head, killing the Monster. And she knows that the only true father she's ever had has saved her once again. Gunshots are being heard fired, shouts are being raised. She sits there, frozen, filled with terror, shaking like a child. McGee is already up (when did he get the knife?), and a guard barges in. One shot from the window and he is on the floor as well.
McGee cuts Tony's cuffs as adrenaline fuels their movements. Then hers. She is free, and she looks at the monster that ruined her life and feels…nothing. Now is not the time for sentiment.
Tony lifts one arm over his shoulder; McGee, one over his, and she presses her lips together to keep from crying out. Neither man notices in the rush to hurry out of this hellhole.
They half drag, half carry her down a hallway, with gunshots and screams all around. Someone stops them, yelling in Arabic, but two shots from an unknown marksman take him down. They continue as quick as they can, and when they turn the corner, they see him.
Gibbs is standing there, in his desert cameo. He takes one look at his surrogate sons and daughter and his eyes speak volumes. Tony and McGee are elated, she can just feel it, but she is still in shock—that someone, no, three someones, would come halfway around the world to save her. But like with the Monster, she doesn't have time for sentiment. Gibbs apparently feels the same way. "Let's go home."
The ride home was…awkward, to say the least. Ziva kept quiet the entire time, reveling in the presence of her friends. Every time there was a noise over the volume of a whisper, she flinched, her mind atomically taking her back to Somalia. McGee, Tony and Gibbs noticed, of course, but they just watched. They knew that she would not talk until she was ready.
Seeing the Navy Yard makes her want to cry, from relief and sadness that four months of her life have been taken away from this wonderful place. But she purses her lips and silently follows Gibbs, with McGee and Tony flanking her (protecting her without words).
The elevator ride is silent. Their wounds are bandaged, but they are still sore and tired and dehydrated. None of them are quite sure why they're here and not finding their friend a place to stay and sleep away all the pain. But no one says anything, because to do so would shatter the tentative calm that has descended over their little party. But Tony, who can only handle silence for so long, speaks. And for once his words invoke humor in her instead of infuriating her.
"Just another day at the office."
The doors open as a soft 'ding' rings through the metal box, revealing the place she has missed for so long: the cubicles, the soft but determined atmosphere, the skylight, the gentle colors. She looks to her leader for confirmation before following him out into the bullpen. She sees two people—vaguely familiar—and for a second she is once again terrified because she cannot remember their names.
But then faces flash before her mind's eye: a happy black-haired girl with pale skin and unique fashion sense who is loyal to the end. Abby.
An elderly doctor who is wise beyond his years, who is the easiest to talk to of her entire replacement family. Ducky.
A clap rings out as her two friends cautiously walk over to her. Director Vance. And then her whole office is clapping, giving her team a standing ovation for rescuing the one they all knew was lost.
And she does not flinch at the noise, because she is so very, very tired of being afraid.
Abby walks up to her, touches her cheek, as though she is afraid that Ziva will fade to dust, and their team will always be broken. But she doesn't. Abby leans down to her friend, her sister, and gives her a hug. She holds her tight and Ziva, after a moment's hesitation, clutches back just as fiercely.
Over Abs's shoulder, she sees Tony sit down at his desk and watch her. With no amusement or playfulness in his eyes, only protectiveness and firm kindness.
Ziva looks away, because she does not know what to say. But she knows that when she does, it will need to be said.
However, just for now, she will let her sister hold her, let her grandfather examine her for wounds that have already been bandaged, because her father will insist.
Maybe there will be a scar, but it will heal.
Oh, tell me you're here, that you will watch over me
Oh, take hold of my heart, show me you love me
A/N no. 2: Please review and tell me about any errors that you found in the story. I hope you enjoyed! Feel free to PM me about any story ideas you have.
Thanks for reading!