Title: Night Terror
Pairing: slight McGee/Ziva, but more friendship
Rating: FR15
Genre: Angst, Dark, Drama, Friendship, Horror
Cat: Gen
Spoilers: None.
Warnings: Some disturbing imagery.
Summary: McGee is being plagued by nightmares. Can Ziva help rid him of them once and for all?
Author's Note: Written for the Nightmare Challenge and the O'Dark Thirty Challenge on NFA. The song at the end is "Night Terror" by Laura Marling, which inspired the story and the title. Enjoy!

"Ah, thanks again for letting me stay here, even though you really didn't have to." McGee stood in an awkward stance, a duffel bag in one hand, and glanced around the apartment. "Your place looks really nice, Ziva. I like the, uh, the decorating you did."

Ziva looked at him from where she was standing in the kitchen, pulling down some glasses from a cupboard. "McGee, really. I do not know why you are so nervous. You have been here before."

McGee rolled his eyes. "I am not nervous . . ."

Ziva walked toward him, a glass of water in her hand. "And you couldn't lie to save your life." She smiled at him and took a drink, then motioned at his bag. "Please, make yourself comfortable."

McGee nodded and set his bag down, then followed Ziva back to the kitchen. "Really, Ziva, I appreciate you doing this. I can't believe my super just up and decided to fumigate in the middle of the week. I mean, who does that?"

She turned and looked at him, pouring him a glass of water and handing it to him. "How many fumigators work on weekends, McGee?"

He smiled a little. "I guess." He looked around nervously before meeting Ziva's amused gaze once more. He sighed. "Sorry. I'm just . . . I've never really felt all that comfortable in other people's homes. I feel like I'm intruding."

Ziva gave him a pointed look. "McGee. We work together day after day, sometimes only spending a few hours at our respective homes." She paused and really met his eyes. "You have saved my life. There is no reason for you to feel uncomfortable here. You are welcome anytime."

He smiled and nodded at her. "You're right," he said, and Ziva patted one of his hands. He let out a breath. "So, what shall we do tonight?"

Ziva's lips turned up into a sneaky smile. "Are you hungry?"

His eyes lit up as he remembered the dinner party she had hosted a few years prior. "Famished," he said, grinning at her.

"Great," Ziva responded, going over to a cupboard and pulling out jars of pasta and spices. "You can help me make dinner," she said over her shoulder and McGee deflated a little. He should have known she would put him to work.

By the time they sat down to eat, it was well after 8 o'clock. It was already pitch black outside, and had been dark since they'd arrived at Ziva's home, since it was that time of the year when the nights came faster and lasted longer. Ziva poured them each a glass of wine and they sat down at her small, but comfortable, dining table.

McGee picked up his glass and held it up to her. "Again, thank you for allowing me to stay here tonight, and thank you for dinner."

Ziva tipped her head in appreciation and said, "It is my pleasure. And besides, imagine Tony's face tomorrow when we tell him we had a nice dinner alone together."

McGee grinned at her and held his glass out to clink hers. "Oh, yes, that will be a moment to treasure," he agreed, and they shared a laugh and started on the meal.

After a leisurely hour of eating, drinking wine and chatting amiably, they finished with the dinner and headed into the kitchen to clean up. As they put away the last of the dishes and Ziva was wiping down the counter, McGee stretched his arms out and let out a yawn, then looked to Ziva, apologizing.

"Sorry," he said, shaking the tiredness from his eyes. "I guess I was more tired than I thought. I guess I'll turn in. And -"

"You're welcome," Ziva interrupted, laughing. "Good night. I will see you in the morning."

McGee hesitated for a split second, then smiled, giving her a brief salute of sorts before heading off to change into pajamas and brush his teeth before retiring for the night.

As he slipped into the cushy bed in Ziva's guest room, he let out a deep breath, hoping his feelings of paranoia were just that and that Ziva hadn't seen through his guise of going to bed early. Maybe he would be able to sleep tonight . . .

In her bedroom, Ziva changed into a tank top and pajama shorts and sat on the edge of her bed, wondering if she should go in to check on McGee. There had been more to her offer to allow him to stay at her place for the night than just being courteous. She was concerned about him. It didn't take much to see he hadn't been sleeping well, as he was coming into work with dark rings under his eyes and was drinking far more coffee than usual - even more than Gibbs drank.

She frowned to herself and stood up. She needed to confront him before he did something careless and he or someone else got hurt. Their profession was not one that could be done without sleep and allow for confidence that everyone would stay safe. Her mind made up, she walked from the room, intent to end this and ensure McGee got the sleep he so desperately needed.

She walked to the guest room and knocked on the door, and when she didn't receive a reply, gently turned the knob and pushed the door open a little. She smiled to herself as she saw McGee in a deep sleep, his arm tossed haphazardly across the bed and his mouth hanging open. Content with what she saw, she backed out of the room again, closing the door behind her. As she returned to her own bedroom and settled in to sleep herself, her last thoughts before falling asleep were, Perhaps he just needed a change of scenery.

McGee was sleeping soundly until a loud crash from the other room caused him to jolt up in bed. His heart pounding, he went into special agent mode, grabbing his gun and loading it before sneaking to the door, careful not to make too much noise, in case there was an intruder. The whole time he was preparing for what he might see on the other side of the door, he couldn't help but feel a bit queasy at the thought that if there was an intruder, they may have gotten to Ziva first.

Get a grip, Tim, he told himself in his head. Ziva can take care of herself. If someone did break in, she probably had them in a chokehold before they even made it in the door.

His confidence restored, he opened the door, making quick moves as he slid down the hall to Ziva's bedroom. The door was ajar. Probably from when she got up to confront the intruder - if there even was one. Maybe she just got up to get a drink and dropped -

His thoughts crashed into the wall of his mind and trickled down in a hail of broken words as he took in the sight before him in Ziva's bedroom.

The room was a mess of broken glass and overturned furniture and in the middle of it all, lying on her bed, was Ziva, a broken angel surrounded by a pool of blood.

"No." McGee spoke for the first time since waking, and he found himself shaking his head as he hurried to the bed, all thoughts of the intruder gone from his mind. "No. Ziva. No, please . . ."

"McGee . . . McGee . . ."

Someone grabbed his arm and he flipped around to face them and . . .

Opened his eyes. He focused and saw Ziva's worried brown eyes gazing down into his. He tore his gaze from hers just long enough to look at his surroundings. He was in bed. This was . . .

"You are at my home, McGee," Ziva said, her voice a welcome panacea to the terror running rampant in his mind. He tried to sit up and she shushed him and pushed him gently back down. He looked her in the eye and shook his head, still not believing any of this was real. "Would you like to talk about it?" Ziva offered, and McGee hesitated before he turned his eyes away from her and began talking.

"There was a noise," he started out, his eyes narrowing as he tried to work out why he was back here now and how Ziva was alive. "It woke me up. I thought maybe there was an intruder or something. But then . . . your bedroom door was open." The next words caught in his throat, and he shook his head, causing Ziva to touch his arm and urge him to continue.

"It was just a bad dream, McGee," Ziva said, and he shook his head harder and suddenly whipped his head to look at her again, causing her to reel back in surprise, which only grew as he continued speaking.

"You were dead, Ziva!" he said, sounding more alive than he had since she had woken him. "I walked into your bedroom and everything was broken and messed up and you . . . He killed you, right in your bed, and I was too late to save you." His voice had lowered in volume again and he looked down at his lap, ashamed. "I let you down. I was right there . . ."

"McGee!" Ziva took his face in her hands and turned it to face her. Her eyes were dark with sadness. "It was not real! I am alive! You have not let me down!" She released her grip on his face, only dropping her hands when she felt he would not look away. "Is this why you have not been sleeping?"

Shock flickered in his eyes before he feigned ignorance. "How could I not be sleeping if I'm having nightmares?" he asked, and Ziva rolled her eyes.

"I really do hate it when you act like Tony," she muttered, then let out a sigh. "McGee, please. I am here. I am not dead. And I can assure you that if anyone did try to break in here and harm me, it would be I who would harm him first." McGee smiled a little at that, but he still looked troubled. Ziva smoothed her hands out over the sheet and then asked, "Is it always me?"

"What?" McGee asked, meeting her eyes.

She shrugged. "Am I always the one who . . ."

McGee looked away, nodding, and Ziva left her question unfinished. "Yeah. It's always you."

Silence fell between them for a few moments, until Ziva finally asked, "Why?"

McGee just raised and lowered his eyebrows in an expression of trying to guess himself and said, "I don't know. Ask my mind." He still hadn't looked back at her.

"Well," Ziva said after another moment of quiet. "I do not know why you are having nightmares, but I can try to help them go away."

McGee scoffed. "I'm not a child, Ziva. It's just a bad dream. You can go back to bed. Thanks for coming to check on me, but I'm fine." He slid down to cover himself with the comforter again - a somewhat difficult task with Ziva sitting on the bed - and turned away from her.

Ziva, meanwhile, remained sitting there, waiting for McGee to face her again. After a few minutes, he rolled over halfway and glared at her over his shoulder. "Aren't you leaving?"

"Perhaps I would not like to be woken up by screaming again, McGee, did you think of that?" she said, giving him a pointed look in return. His glare turned into a more sheepish expression and Ziva softened her own gaze. "I doubt I can make your bad dreams disappear, but I would like to try."

"By doing what?" McGee asked, sounding defeated. "Ziva, this is something I have to get over myself."

"And that is clearly working well," Ziva muttered under her breath, and McGee's glare returned. She gave him an intense look. "Scoot over."

He narrowed his eyes at her. "What?"

She sighed. "Did I get that idiom wrong, as well? My English is not that bad . . ."

"No, no, that was the right expression, but . . . Why?"

She shrugged. "If I am here, then perhaps your subconscious will not be tempted to kill me." She frowned at the thought, then shook it from her head, then looked back to McGee to await his response.

"Even if I do let you, uh, stay here and 'keep away the bad dreams' tonight, it's not like that'll be that and they're just disappear," McGee said, looking more in despair with every second that passed.

"Well, then," Ziva started, and suddenly found the sheet in front of her very interesting and focused on it instead, "perhaps we can arrange something to take care of that." She paused to wait for McGee's response, letting out long, slow breaths as she did.

"Ziva . . ." McGee said, his face heating up with embarrassment. "You don't have to -"

"McGee," Ziva interrupted him, not embarrassed in the slightest. "You are my friend. I do not like seeing you so miserable. And . . ." Her voice softened. "Perhaps I would like someone to keep me warm at night."

McGee raised an eyebrow at her and slowly pushed himself into a sitting position again. "I don't know how good I am at warming people up . . ." he finally said, and Ziva tried to hide her smile, feigning nonchalance instead.

"You will never know until you try," she responded, and he gave her a tiny smile, sliding over to give her room to fit on the bed beside him. She raised her legs and pulled the cover out from under her, slipping under it and arranging herself into a comfortable position. She looked over at McGee. "Do you think you can sleep now?"

He hesitated, then nodded against the pillow. "Yeah, I think so." He paused, then added, "Thanks, Ziva."

She smiled at him. "It is no problem, McGee. Good night." She reached over and turned off the bedside lamp, then settled in, only taking a few minutes to fall asleep.

McGee's eyes opened and he let out a yawn, looking toward the window as he did so. It was morning and the sun shone through the blinds in the guest room. He smiled to himself. Ziva was right. He'd been able to sleep through the night, without anymore nightmares. He looked over to where she had been sleeping, ready to wish her a good morning and thank her again, but instead found rumpled sheets and no Ziva.

Frowning, he shrugged and stood up. She had probably went to start breakfast or something. The thought made him smile again. How nice it would be to wake up every morning to Ziva making him breakfast, to go into the kitchen and wrap his arms around her, kissing her neck and inhaling the wonderful aromas of coffee and eggs and pancakes cooking.

He shook the thought from his head. He wasn't even sure where that thought had come from. He adored Ziva, but they were just friends. Weren't they?

He pulled on a pair of pants and headed for the kitchen, calling out to Ziva as he went. "Hey, Ziva, I'm awake. Thanks again for . . ."

His words trailed off into nothingness and his knees nearly buckled under him as he took in what greeted him in the kitchen.

Ziva, sprawled face first on the kitchen counter, blood spilling from her head and off the counter to the floor below.

"Not again," he muttered, shaking his head in disbelief. "No, Ziva. You can't be . . . No, no, no . . ."

"McGee, wake up!"

McGee's eyes flicked open as he came face-to-face with Ziva again. Her eyes were filled with concern. He closed his eyes and shook his head. "Sorry to wake you again. I just . . . Damnit. I thought they would go away if you were here."

Ziva was silent for a moment, then boldly said, "Perhaps your conscience was not aware I was here."

He opened his eyes and gave her a questioning look. "What do you mean by that?"

"Well, I was sleeping all the way on the other side of the bed," she said, not wanting to come straight out and say what was on her mind. McGee just continued to give her a blank stare, though, so she shrugged and continued. "Perhaps your mind needs to be settled by touch, the closeness it has not received."

McGee's eyes widened. "You don't want to have . . ."

"No, McGee!" Ziva chided softly, but she couldn't keep a smile from her face. "You really have been spending far too much time with Tony." He blushed, the tips of his ears turning pink, and Ziva explained to him what she had in mind. "It may be as simple as human contact - mine, in particular. If you do not object . . ."

McGee was shaking his head, but smiling. "I was too nervous to ask before," he admitted, and Ziva smiled at him as she inched closer to him, resting a hand on his chest over his heart.

"Never be afraid to ask for what you know you want," she told him. "And if your nightmares should choose to return, they will need to make it through me first."

McGee smiled down at her and rubbed a hand along her back, causing a chill to run down Ziva's spine and her to move even closer to him. "Good night again, Ziva. Hopefully I won't be waking again until the morning."

"Same here," Ziva said. "I am tired." They both laughed and Ziva reached over to turn the lamp off again. "Good night, McGee." She resumed her position so close to McGee, hoping for the best, but a chill of worry still ran through her body.

Almost as if he had felt it himself, McGee tightened his grip on Ziva and pulled her against his chest. Ziva smiled and allowed her eyes to drift shut. Perhaps it would all be okay, after all.

I woke up and he was screaming
I'd left him dreaming
I rolled over and shook him tightly
And whispered, "If you want him,
you're gonna have to fight me."
Oh, fight me.