My Reflection, Someone I Don't Know
Disclaimer: All names and trademarks recognised as "NCIS" do not belong to me; I've just borrowed the characters for my own purpose. Title inspired by "Reflection" from Disney's Mulan, also not mine.
Genre: Angst, Ep-Tag
Warnings: Spoilers for 7x01 Truth or Consequences, non-graphic references to torture
Summary: The girl in the mirror stares back at her and Ziva isn't sure who she is. Post-ep for Truth or Consequences.
A/N For Sherry with the prompt Ziva David/Leroy Jethro Gibbs/mirror image.
The girl in the mirror stares back at her and Ziva isn't sure who she is. Limp brown hair, pale skin, baggy eyes: it's a poor reflection of someone she used to be – someone with family, friends, someone strong. Ziva sighs, and shakes her head; there is no use crying over broken milk, spilt or otherwise.
She twists her body, her back faces the mirror (she can't see that girl anymore), and pulls the grimy t-shirt over her head and drops it to the floor, pushing it into a corner between the basin (a blue toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste, a comb) and the shower. Ziva turns back, clad in a dirty bra and ill-fitting trousers, and the girl is back.
Ziva frowns and eyes the girl critically. A faint pink scar runs from her chest to her naval. It's faded now – it was never enough to break the skin and make her bleed – but that's not what she sees … (The ornamental knife glistens silver in the half-light.) She traces a single finger down it, but it must be the girl in the mirror, not her.
She turns her body again, so that her back is facing the mirror; but this time she twists her head over her shoulder. The girl in the mirror is still there.
Three dark welts mar her skin like three dangerous tally marks – Michael, Ari, Tali … her failures and regrets; permanent reminders of what the girl in the mirror didn't have, and what Ziva once did. Glancing away, hiding her failures, Ziva turns so that she faces the mirror again; the girl in the mirror copies.
Along her arm, wrist to elbow, there is another pink line. Their tool of choice was a knife, always a knife, and Ziva considers the girl in the mirror lucky. There are worse things one can do to another human being; Mossad tries to teach them to endure – meditation, visualisation, detachment – but they're not stupid. All that training, and it's nothing like the real world. But Ziva is lucky (she doesn't think that of the girl in the mirror), and that's the end of it.
She steps out of her trousers, kicks them on top of the t-shirt, and strips. Ziva leans in, winces, and turns on the tap (hot). Water sprays, and Ziva doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. Water, once taken for granted, is now nothing and everything. The steam fogs up the mirror, and Ziva realises she's even forgotten to turn on the fan.
She steps under the spray.
She doesn't want, they're not coming, to think, I don't want to die, about the, what do you know, dark, days and days and days, and the, nobody's coming, damp, about the endless, I don't understand, days, I don't want to die, and the crack, no, please, of light, no, as the door opens, the light hurts, and a faceless name, I can see the Barry, steps in, the walls are orange, and looks at her … there is nothing.
They say water cleanses the soul.
Ziva washes herself down the drain.
It's eerie déjà vu (again) as she descends the stairs. Ziva doesn't know if the basement will ever stop being a metaphor for pain (but also for redemption). One step at a time, she tries to stay silent, invisible.
But Gibbs looks up.
There's a boat, nearly complete, sitting innocently in the middle of the basement, but Gibbs isn't working on it. He's resting against a work-bench in the half-light and shadows hide his face.
Ziva pauses, just for a moment.
But then Gibbs moves into the light and Ziva breathes a sigh of relief. He gestures with his head, nodding slightly, an invitation. So Ziva takes it, stepping off the staircase and hitting firm concrete floor.
He steps forward and holds out a sheet of off-white paper. 'McGee wanted me to give this to you.' There's lots of small black writing printed across it.
Puzzled, Ziva reaches for it. Their hands brush and Ziva doesn't pull away. Gibbs gazes at Ziva intently before releasing the piece of paper and gives her a soft, barely there smile … the paper feels like a lead weight in her hand.
Ziva looks down at the neatly typed list; it's a listing of decent rental apartments within a reasonable commuting distance to the Navy Yard. She glances at Gibbs. 'Are you trying to get rid of me?'
Gibbs shrugs, but says, 'My door's always unlocked.' He turns and reaches for a bottle, and two old jars that he has to tip nails and bolts out of. He pours, and passes Ziva one of the jars.
She looks at it. 'Thank you,' Ziva replies, and they both know she doesn't mean the bourbon.
They raise their jars at each other, and drink.
Once she was someone … someone with family – a father, a brother, a sister, a mother – someone with friends, a job, a life … but now she is no one …
She is just that girl in the mirror.