I was supposed to be working on Tangled Webs and yet found my thoughts wandering to this. It has been simmering since Swan Song aired, and after re-watching my lovely new DVDs last night, I gave in and just wrote it. Very short and angsty, but you should know by now that I like those best! :)
Disclaimer: Outside of eight seasons on DVD, I own nothing.
With an inner voice the river ran,
Adown it floated a dying swan,
And loudly did lament…
- Lord Alfred Tennyson
They wouldn't stop: the words. They tumbled through her mind of their own volition. She had been holding herself together with stubbornness and string until Gibbs had unknowingly undone her tenuous control with just three words.
"Mike's Swan Song..."
Gibbs whispered it reverently, lovingly. A tribute to his fallen mentor and friend. He couldn't have known the significance it had to her. A small gasp escaped Ziva's lips, and she suddenly had to escape the morgue filled with death and ghosts.
So many hours later that long night, she sat in bed, her gaze darting around the softly lit room. She pulled the comforter up to her chin, the well-worn book in her lap tumbling aside. She burrowed back against the plush pillows in hopes that the wave of memories wouldn't be able to see her - would pass her by in the quiet room. But they didn't.
Talia. Sweet soft-hearted Talia, sniffing quietly and wiping tears from her cheeks.
"What has touched your soul today, sheli?" Ziva sighed, a small smile tugging at her lips as she looked down at the large tome balanced on the young girl's lap. "Ahhh. Tennyson again?"
"But just listen," Talia whispered, her words wrapping reverently around a few lines of the poem she read aloud.
"It is very nice, but the swan song is a myth, my Tali," Ziva chided gently. "In fact, I even think they hiss before they die…"
"You would say such things, Zizi!" Talia giggled, rolling her eyes. "Perhaps your swan would hiss, but mine would sing! It's about finding beauty in death..."
Talia had died one month later. And Ziva had tried - had taken Talia's much loved book of silly words - and tried to do just that. But she could not see past the broken and bloodied body of her sister to find anything beautiful or poetic in her death. Or in Ari's, or Jenny's, or Mike's.
There is poetic justice, perhaps, she thought. The ones I love always end up dead.
"Hey," came a soft voice at her bedroom door. Ziva jumped, shaken from her reverie, and grabbed the gun from under her pillow. She had it pointed at the intruder within a second.
Tony held up his hands in surrender, keys jangling softly between his fingers. "You didn't answer the door. I got worried and let myself in."
"An unwise choice with a serial killer on the loose," she sighed, falling back against the pillows. "Why are you here?"
He shrugged, coming around the other side of the bed and stretching out beside her. "Couldn't sleep."
Ziva nodded, tossing the book on her bedside table and clicking off the lamp.
"Since when do you read poetry?" His voice was soft in the darkness as she settled beside him; close but not quite touching.
"I do not," she answered simply. He didn't push it.
She closed her eyes, trying to ignore the images that swam before her eyelids: her sister's teasing smile; Mike's cold pale body on the autopsy table; and a bloody swan, hissing as it floated down a river. She shuddered and moved closer to Tony, feeling his arm snake around her as she rested her head on his chest. She was surprised to find it quickly rising and falling as he struggled to control his breathing.
"Tony?" she whispered, reaching a hand blindly up to his cheek. It was wet.
"Franks was Gibbs' Gibbs," he choked out, his arm tightening around her.
It took him a long moment before he could answer, and when he did, it was in a broken whisper. "Franks was his boss, his mentor. Franks was his Gibbs. I can't imagine…"
She was silent for a long moment. "I know," she answered finally, softly, nestling into the crook of his neck and holding onto him as he clung to her. She closed her eyes and tried to ignore how the rain pelting hard outside her window almost sounded like a hiss.
The wild swan's death-hymn took the soul
Of that waste place with joy
Hidden in sorrow: at first to the ear
The warble was low, and full and clear...
Quotes are from They Dying Swan by Lord Alfred Tennyson. It's a beautiful poem if you've never read it.
Worth noting, in my mind this somehow happened before Tony got the call about EJ because he's too good a guy to just ignore her after that trauma.
Please leave a note if you liked it!