Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
A/N: This is the sequel to my first story 'More Than Bargained For.' It directly picks up the storyline from there, so I'd recommend reading that one first. Sorry, in advance for beating up on Ziva and the team a little more. Enjoy!
Break My Fall
Special Agent Tony DiNozzo walked deliberately over to NCIS' "Most Wanted" wall. He briefly looked over the faces he knew so well, criminals and terrorists all. On the far end of the wall, Tony affixed a new photo with masking tape; along the bottom he had scrawled "Nigel."
Leroy Jethro Gibbs leaned on the balcony railing, his standard Starbucks coffee in hand, studying his agents. The Sunday was almost done, the sun already having gone down. Earlier in the day, he'd sent McGee and Tony to Major Lincoln's apartment to see if there was anything of note there. Everything seemed to have been in order there. The Major's workplace was no longer viable, seeing as the whole building had been demolished. They were still awaiting the autopsy from Ducky and really had no new leads yet. So now, the team was working two cases simultaneously: Lincoln's and Nigel's. Not that they had much to go on for either one. Right now, it was only Gibbs' famous gut that said they were connected at all.
McGee was typing madly on his keyboard, several programs running in the background. One was a facial recognition program, running Nigel's face against every database available. The young agent kept looking up every few minutes to cast worried glances at his companions. Tony was leaned back in his chair, attempting to accomplish something on his own computer. Mostly though, he was looking at Ziva, concern and worry etched across his face. There was none of the teasing or easy banter that usually existed between them. There was a stillness in the air that seemed as if it could be upset by a pin drop.
Gibbs took more time to study the lone female member of his team. In short, she looked like shit. A sling and cast encased her left arm, a brace on the right leg, a crutch discarded at the back of her cubicle. Even from the balcony, Gibbs could see the break in skin and slight dent in her nose where it was broken; blood in her right eye from a fractured cheekbone. Gibbs knew there to be more injuries, the worst of which were probably not physical. If asked how she was, the response would most likely be a curt "fine" and a redirect. Looking closer, Gibbs could see pain lines on Ziva's face and her jaw clenching and unclenching, almost unnoticeably if he wasn't looking for it. She looked exhausted and was no doubt not taking any of the pain medication prescribed to her. If he had to guess, she was punishing herself for the events of the previous day. He had an idea, somewhat, of the guilt and blame she was probably putting on herself in that brain of hers.
The older man took a long pull of his Marine-grade coffee and noticed Tony looking up at him. The look on Tony's face spoke volumes to the team leader. Gibbs' team was bent, but not yet broken, if they could keep their Mossad Liaison Officer from self-destructing. She was drawing within herself, shame and self-hatred eating at her very soul.
It would be a long road back to normalcy. If nothing else, the fact that Tony was able to just watch Ziva openly, with no comment or her sneaking up on him, was enough to worry Gibbs to no end. He'd never seen her not bounce back.
One last sip from the coffee and he stood back from the railing. He would need to prepare her for what was to come. This would not die down easily. At the very least, an internal investigation was in store. It would not go well for Ziva if she didn't stop blaming herself completely for yesterday's events. Gibbs tossed his empty coffee cup in the trash; there was no time like the present to do what needed to be done if he wanted to keep his team together and time was in short supply.
Two heads shot up simultaneously as Gibbs marched into the bullpen; Ziva's came up a little slower and she did not meet his gaze. Without a word, the senior agent pointed at Ziva and indicated that she should follow him. Not waiting for her, he strode over to the elevator and jabbed the call button.
Soon enough, the squek of Ziva's underarm crutch indicated her progress toward Gibb's position. He didn't even spare her a glance, instead choosing to stare at the ceiling and the far wall.
The elevator dinged; the door opening to reveal an NCIS agent leaned against the back wall. A glare from Gibbs sent the young man scurrying out onto the main floor. Gibbs marched into the now-empty elevator, Ziva limping in behind him. The doors closed ominously; Gibbs pulled the Emergency Stop button almost immediately.
He silently looked over Mossad Officer Ziva David. She appeared more the worse for wear than Gibbs' original observation from the balcony. She was leaned bodily against the opposite wall of the elevator, shoulders slumped, hooded eyes downcast. It was as if her whole body had lost all spark of life upon entering the elevator. Ziva's black hair looked unkempt and put up hastily, strands loose here and there. The bags under her eyes told him she hadn't slept much, if at all, the previous night. The bruises and cuts that marred Ziva's face were even more pronounced by the pallor of her skin. She probably hadn't eaten anything since breakfast of the day before and now it was late evening. Normally, she was an excellent cook and he knew she enjoyed cooking meals for herself. But based on her mismatched socks, she had left her apartment in a hurry, most likely as a result of Nigel's message to her on the answering machine. In fact, he recognized the loose cargo pants and olive-drab t-shirt as an outfit she had worn earlier in the week. No doubt she'd grabbed them off the floor of her apartment to at least be rid of the hospital scrubs before hastily exiting the premises of her spacious apartment.
Gibbs had never seen Ziva look so lost and broken, which is why he steeled himself for what he was about to do to her. He wished he could just hold her, as a father would. But he needed her to get her fire back and soon. With the storm he knew to be coming, probably at daybreak the next morning, he could not gently comfort her and whisper that everything would be alright. He just prayed his plan would not backfire and that she might someday forgive him for this.
"What the hell did you unleash on this office? Do you know what kind of damage you've caused?" Gibbs started, becoming more emphatic with each word he spoke.
"I am sorry, Gibbs," Ziva responded meekly, still not meeting his steely gaze.
"'You're sorry,' that's really all you have to say for yourself," he said sarcastically. "You've gotta be kidding me!" Stepping menacingly towards her now, "You let some stranger into your bed and straight into NCIS." Ziva's breath hitched, a single tear made tracks sadly down her face. Gibbs had to press on now or risk leaving Ziva more broken than before. "You're a disgrace to NCIS and Mossad! Look at me when I'm talking to you!" He shoved her hard against the unforgiving metal of the elevator.
A muffled whimper escaped from Ziva's lips, as white-hot agony ripped through her body. Gibbs' heart broke at the sound, but the effect was instantaneous. Ziva's deep brown eyes locked onto his and he could read the primal fury and pain barely contained there. One more button to push.
"You whore," Gibbs breathed out vehemently, as he towered threateningly over the smaller woman. "I hope the sex was really good because you've compromised this entire agency because you couldn't keep your damned legs closed!"
Whack! Gibbs' vision darkened, as he found himself on the floor of the elevator.
"You self-righteous bastard!" Ziva ground out between gasps of breath, her whole body shaking.
Gibbs touched a hand tentatively to his check and came away with a smear of blood. Even beat to shit, she still had one hell of a right hook. He picked himself up off the floor, gingerly tested his jaw, and heatedly jabbed the Emergency Stop button back in. The doors obediently opened; Gibbs marched out of the elevator and prayed that that was worth it.
A/N: Review please! I'm always looking for some feedback. I will be moving in the next few days, but once I get my internet connection back next week, I'll post the next chapter.-Flygirl.