A/N: No, your eyes are not fooling you – it's actually an update!
Ziva's eyes still looked empty as Gibbs placed a bowl lukewarm soup on the living room table in front of her. Her thick mane of tangled curls hid parts of the heavy strokes she'd received during her summer in Somalia, excluding two angry cuts across her nose and cheekbone.
"No solid food just yet," He reminded as he pushed the steaming liquid closer to her. "Ducky's orders."
Finding it difficult to speak, though still feeling obligated to show some sign of gratitude, Ziva settled for a small nod and a strained smile in confirmation.
"Eat." The words were soft, but an order nonetheless.
And she did. Inhaling the soup unable to restrain herself to manners. She was so ravenously hungry.
Her desire for nurture had been burning like and endless fire for months, refusing to go out, and she was desperate to finally choke it. It had intruded her stomach as an unwelcome guest, making its home behind a wall of hunger, its daggers cutting her from inside.
She had been a prisoner trapped in a cage of regret, guilt siding with never-ending malnutrition forcing her back to consciousness each and every morning. It had consumed her, gnawing away the little resolve left in her tired body. She'd been left hollow and drained – a mere shadow of her old self.
Never again would she take food for granted, to be able to open the familiar doors to her refrigerator and stuff herself with whatever goodness inside, simply for the sake of it. The reason didn't really matter. Whether it was due to happiness, sadness or even boredom, just being able to choose her menu entirely for herself was something she would cherish greatly from now on.
The sound of Gibbs amused words drew her attention. "Taste any good?"
Only then did she realize she had already finished, the porcelain in front of her practically licked clean.
"Very." Her voice was faint and she still couldn't find it in her to meet his gaze, but her lips were curled in a shy beam.
"Care for a refill?" Gibbs asked as he rose from his chair grabbing the bowl.
He was aware of Ducky's warning not to allow her too big portions at a time, thereby minimizing the risk of everything coming back up. It would supposedly help her system get used to ordinary eating habits faster, but Gibbs still didn't like denying her much too thin frame anything edible. A little more soup couldn't possibly hurt now, could it?
Gibbs watched Ziva as she pondered her answer, he knew she too had been informed about the restrictions in her diet and the reasons behind them.
She threw a longing glance towards the kitchen, and if Gibbs hadn't known better he could have sworn he saw her pout. Finally Ziva wrapped a bony arm around her abdomen, dejected. "I doubt I can."
He had vowed not to pity the woman, knowing she wouldn't wish for any of the sort, but one would've had to be heartless not to feel bad for her. "Ate to fast, huh?"
"I believe so." Ziva admitted. Her stomach had already started churning and she could feel a lingering ache building up.
"Why don't you lay down for a bit?" Gibbs suggested, making a mental note on how she soothingly rubbed her belly as if trying to soothe the pain.
As on cue, Ziva felt a wave of exhaustion wash over her and before she knew it a long, tired yawn had escaped her.
"I'll take that as a yes." Gibbs chuckled and moved to put away the dishes and show his temporary house guest to her room.
When he returned from the kitchen however, Ziva had already made herself comfortable on the couch. The warm pillows were mercifully soft against her bruised body. So instead he grabbed a quilt from the basket by the fireplace and covered her up with it, careful not to disturb her wounds. He then retreated back to his chair.
"Please, feel no obligation to remain here for my sake." Ziva said, realizing he wasn't intending to leave. "You have already done more than I could ever repay."
He couldn't help the smirk that spread over his features as he looked at her. It was the longest sentence she'd formed since their return. "If you think you're gonna get me out of my favourite chair you're sadly mistaken David."
Her voice cracked as she spoke the words which had her meet his eyes for the first time in what seemed like forever. "Thank you Gibbs, for everything."
The assuring nod he offered in return was all she needed to allow herself to succumb to the darkness already tainting her vision, falling into a much needed slumber not a minute later.
For how long he sat there watching his former team member's chest rise and fall as she slept Gibbs didn't know, and frankly he didn't care. It seemed his mind couldn't grasp the fact that the once thought to be dead woman was now lying in his sofa, very much alive and breathing.
Soon two hours had passed and Gibbs found himself unable to decide whether to wake Ziva from her nap for dinner or putting it off for another few minutes and let her rest a little longer.
He was torn from his musings by the clattering noise of his phone vibrating against the living room table.
After quickly picking it up Gibbs made sure Ziva hadn't woken before silently making his way to the hallway.
"Hi Boss," Tony's voice filled his ear. "As you know Vance has requested our presence for a debrief tomorrow morning and I just wanted to make sure you got the right time."
"9:00 am, I know." Gibbs answered. He could tell there was more to his subordinate's phone call than double checking the time for the meeting.
"Good, just making sure," Tony absently continued. There was definitely an ulterior motive. "So, um… feeling the jet-lag yet?" He stalled.
"The point DiNozzo?"
"Right," Tony cleared his throat, his voice now distinctly softer. "How's she doing Boss?" He finally asked, further clarification on who he was referring to completely unnecessary.
Gibbs decided to be honest, after the hell his Senior Field Agent had been through the last couple of months he at least deserved that. "I'm not sure."
"She there now?"
"Has she eaten anything yet? Ducky said it was important that–"
"I've got this." Gibbs stated firmly, effectively cutting off the younger man's ramblings.
"Of course you do," The words were apologetic, almost sounding as if he regretted asking.
"She's gonna be okay." Gibbs promised, painfully unaware whether he was trying to convince Tony or himself. "Get some sleep Tony."
"Yeah," Grateful for the small words of solace but still not entirely at ease, Tony decided it was time to wrap things up. "Well, I guess I'll see to you tomorrow then. Bye."
And with that the line went dead, much to Gibbs surprise, he had to admit. Tony hanging up on him? Now that was a first. Then again it was probably but only one of many things that would come to change from here on.
No longer in need of his phone Gibbs flipped it shut and placed it safely in his pocket, knowingly shaking his head as he returned to his post by Ziva's side.
I know I'm a despicable human being for taking so long to update and for that I apologize, but I hit a major writer's block and I never really found it in me to continue through it. Now, is there anyone actually still interested in this old piece or should I simply leave it for what it is? Please leave a review and tell me what you think!