She stood on his doorstep, hesitant and unsure. Should she knock? Would he even want to see her?
Would he think she's crazy for showing up to see him at midnight?
Sighing, Ziva decided to just suck it up and knock on his door. There was something she had been dying to ask him all day. She needed advice. The stress of keeping her emotions locked up inside of her had become just too much.
She head the sound of a lock clicking, and the door swung open.
"Ziva? Hi, what... what are you doing here?" he asked.
"Damon, I need to talk to you. I know you are leaving in the morning, and I really wanted to have this conversation in person..." she began, trying to explain. He nodded, and stepped aside to let her in.
"Do you want some... water or something?" Damon asked, fidgeting awkwardly as they both went to sit on the couch. She shook her head.
"No... I just need to talk to you about something..." Ziva replied. Damon frowned. She was preoccupied, he could tell. She kept staring into space, like she was remembering something.
"Ok. Shoot," he told her. She turned her head to look into his eyes.
"I... um... I guess I just want to know how you got over it?" she said. It was meant to be a statement, but it came out sounding more like a question.
"Got over what, Ziva?"
"The... the PTSD," she elaborated softly, looking down and her hands again. The look in her eyes... it was almost ashamed.
PTSD? Damon thought. Ziva has PTSD?
"Ziva... you don't really have a friend that 'knows about these things,' do you?" Damon asked, remembering their conversation from earlier that day.
"Hey... relax," she prompted. He took a deep breath.
"Heatherton drove the lead hummer... when we were hit," he said.
"My, uh... friends who know about these things... tell me it is a science. Trauma intensifies memory which can make it feel ever present," she said.She is talking like she knows what it feels like, Damon thought.
"There a reason for that?" he asked.
"Perhaps to teach you?" she replied, "...So you do not allow it to happen again." Allow what, Ziva? He is dying to ask. But he keeps his mouth shut.
She has changed since he first met her. She is different. Something changed her.
Ziva chuckled without humor.
"No, I um... it was my... my therapist... who told me that," she replied, still not looking at him.
"Ziva, why do you have a therapist?" he asked urgently. She finally looked at him.
"It does not matter. I just want to know... Damon, you have gotten on with your life. You do not let what happened to you rule your life. But I... it is not going away. I have been through tough things before, and normally it works to bury it but.. it is not working," she said sadly.
"Ziva I can't help you unless you tell me what happened," he replied. She took a deep breath.
"I, um... I was captured. Five months ago. By terrorists," she began.
"No, let me finish. These terrorists were intent on getting... information out of me. They tried every torture technique I had ever heard of, and then some. For two months, they tortured me relentlessly. Until one day, they simply gave up," she explained. The look in her eye told Damon that she was not here with him right now. She was reliving it.
And it was hurting her.
"Then why are you here right now?" he asked. He knew well that if they gave up on getting intel, then she would be dead in a ditch right now, not sitting on the couch of the apartment he rented.
"They... they um... they were about to kill me. They were going to kill me. But one of them... realized... they decided to keep me around. For their... their pleasure," she replied, the pain and disgust evident in her voice. Damon wrapped his arms around her. She flinched when she felt it, but relaxed when she realized it was only him. He wasn't going to hurt her.
"Ziva, the only way for it to get better is to talk about it," he told her. She shook her head.
"I have a therapist-"
"Ziva, I haven't known you for very long, but I am sure that you are not the kind of person who will spill your guts to a complete stranger. I am certain of it," Damon said.
"I dance around the questions with the therapist. I am not fond of talking about my feelings."
"It's only gonna go away if you talk about it," he assured her, "It won't happen quickly. It will be slow. But you will get over it. The nightmares—"
"How did you know about the nightmares?"
"I had PTSD as well, Ziva."
"Do they ever stop?" she asked. He shook his head.
"They will always be there. They will come and go. If something happens that day that reminds you of it, the nightmare will come."
"I just want to go on with my life without feeling like I have to fight the memories."
"You can. Just try to remember it doesn't make you weak to feel."
"I do not want this to define me. I do no want to be defined by my biggest mistake," she said sadly. Damon shook his head.
"You have to stop blaming yourself," he told her, "Or else it will never go away."
"You did not allow this to happen. Why would you? Why would you want this to happen? I am sure you did everything in your power to prevent it," he told her.
"No, you do not understand! I could have chose to not... pleasure them. But I was weak. They would not feed me that day unless I did it!"
"You chose to survive. You chose to survive instead of dying slowly of starvation."
"I am dirty. I am damaged goods."
"You are strong. And you will get through this," Damon said, "Take it from someone who knows."
"Thank you, Damon," she said, her gratefulness showing in her eyes. Even though she knows her team are more than willing to talk with her about what happened, none of them understand.
She was glad she could have a conversation with someone who knows what she is going through.
"You take care, Ziva. Don't lose touch," he said as he showed her out.
She left his apartment feeling considerable happier. It was like talking about her emotions took a little bit of the weight off her shoulders.
Maybe she should do that more often.