Normal by Mooncombo

This story was written for Session 1 of The Last Fiction Writer Standing Challenge on Live Journal. This version is slightly different than the original.

The prompt for this session: Missing Scene: Was there a scene on an episode that you wished was different? Did the end of an episode leave you wanting more? Write a tag or a missing scene, for an episode. For spoiler reasons you may only use episodes 1-5 of season 8. Anyone using an episode after "Dead Air" will be made to re-write their story (in other words, you may use any episode from seaosn 1-7 and only the first 5 episodes from season 8). Word count may not exceed 1500.

Takes place after Reunion 7 x 2.


She finds it curious that of all of the things that have come to pass over the last few months, it just might be the dripping water that causes her to break.

The quarters she has been assigned are sparse and hardly feel like home, but then again the concept of "home" has been turned upside down and inside out. Her analytical mind has been hard at work arranging and rearranging the facts she knows and the things she thinks she knows for hours now, and despite the gnawing ever present exhaustion, sleep eludes her.

Each night, she goes to bed earlier than the last; a vain attempt at best to restore a sense of normal routine, which really only leads to the prolonged wakefulness of an over active brain. Each thought is stored and filed for later reference because undoubtedly, she eventually will feel something. But she doesn't really need to start feeling today.

It will be just as raw and ugly tomorrow, surely. So there's no need to rush.

And just because her mind paints pictures and tells a relentless story, they are just images. And just because she happens to play the female lead in this particular drama doesn't mean she must identify with the character. Sadly, or maybe luckily, that is the truth: she doesn't feel anything.

The sound of water escaping the leaking faucet in a steady flow lends cadence to the mental movie and causes her fingers to twitch in annoyance with each resounding splat. Her breath quickens in time to match the tempo; quarter notes to compliment her eighth note heartbeats. With the arrival of the one-woman percussion band comes that tiny voice that whispers cruelly that this is what the beginning of crazy looks like.

It's time to move on to more friendly waters, even if it is just for the night.

XXX

If Abby is surprised by her arrival in the middle of the night, she hides it well. But Ziva supposes that Abby most likely takes most things in stride. Most things, but probably not so much any story Ziva might share. But then again, Ziva has no intention of telling any such stories. And aren't they just stories, anyway? Isn't everything just a story to be told or not told, anyway?

Fluttering about to play hostess for her wayward guest, even and overly caring Abby knows not to scratch at scabs, particularly if those invisible scabs reside on the psyche of a battle scarred soldier. So Abby bounces and twirls; hums and chatters. And most importantly, does not ask questions. Ziva begins to relax.

She makes hot chocolate - of course she has marshmallows - all the while soothing Ziva's frayed nerves with her endless babble. She talks of movies and gossip and all of the things Ziva missed while "she was away" but Ziva does not hear any of those things. All she hears is the sound of Abby's voice washing over her like a lullaby while the movie in her mind fades to a vague static in the background.

Ziva smiles slightly over her mug, the heat radiating off of the ceramic and permeating her fingers as the steam warms her face. Is this what home feels like? She's not sure. But it feels nice, so she'll go with it for now.

Long moments pass before Ziva realizes that Abby is silent and quite openly staring at her, a look of curious interest crossing her face. Ziva knows this is the point where Abby will start asking questions, so she plasters a smile on her face and steels herself for the interrogation.

But all Abby, somber now, says is, "would you like to stay the night?"

Ziva swallows past the lump in her throat.

XXX

Abby's couch is surprisingly comfortable and Ziva allows herself to sink into its warmth bundled into the cushions by a homemade patchwork quilt. Blinking slowly, the tension seeps out her muscles as she relaxes without the steady beat of dripping water.

She dozes to the dull buzz of Abby straightening her kitchen, blessed sleep almost finding her when she feels Abby sink down onto the couch beside her. Neither speak for a moment until Abby's hand searches out Ziva's.

"You can go to him, you know. He won't turn you away, Ziva"

She has nothing to say to this bold statement when she can't be sure Abby is right.

Because she's not sure she's welcome there.

The silence stretches out between them like a gaping yawn as neither speak, but then, Abby was never expecting an answer, anyway. She squeezes Ziva's hand tightly as she leans over to press a comforting kiss against her brow. Ziva's breath hitches almost violently at the unexpected kindness that asks for nothing in return.

Home.

Leaving Ziva to her thoughts, Abby shuts out the lights but pauses before tossing the room into complete darkness.

"Tony could have died for you in Africa. I don't think he will turn his back on you now." Abby says softly, her voice both raspy and soothing. "Good night."

Her eyes burn white hot behind closed lids while her heart thumps out an erratic tune. The significance of Abby's words creep under her skin and into her mind. She can feel her chest getting tighter and tighter, clamping down and strangling the sob she won't allow to pass her lips.

Tomorrow, she tells herself.

Her breath calms and her heart rights itself to its steady rhythm.

She can start feeling tomorrow.


A/N: Thank you for reading. Feedback is always appreciated!

A/N2: I did make it to the next round. :)