"Let's go home."
The words echoed through Ziva's head over and over again as she was practically dragged out of the building that had held her captive for over three months. She didn't look back as they hoisted her into the back of a truck. The sound of helicopter blades and gunfire grew steadily softer as she was taken farther and farther from hell. The voices around her were slurring, the images she was seeing becoming distorted and swirling around her. Nothing made sense. Everything was happening so fast, she just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. As she was laid down on the hard bed of the truck, her eyes began to droop. She heard the voices around her telling her to stay awake, to stay with them, but they didn't seem to register in her brain.
And slowly, gradually, the noise of gunfire and voices and truck engines faded into silence, until there was only one sound.
Let's go home.
She awoke to a steady beating. Tha thump. Tha thump. Tha thump.
Her eyes slowly opened, and she took in her surroundings.
She appeared to be in a C-130. Her head was resting on a sleeping Tony's left shoulder, her ear right by his heart. Gibbs was sitting on the bench on the other side of the plane, his head nodded off to the side. Tim sat next to him, wide awake and talking softly on his cell phone.
"Abby, Abby, please calm down... Yes I know... She's not well, Abby. She's not Ziva..." Ziva bit her lip as she realized he was talking about her. "Abby, when you see her please don't pounce on her, okay? She's jumpy enough as it is... I don't know what they did to her, Abs. But whatever it is I am not entirely sure I want to know. It's like the life in her eyes is just... Gone. You didn't hear her say it, Abby. She flat out said she was ready to die. Whatever makes her the Ziva that we knew is simply... Not there. Maybe it's there, but it's hidden. They broke her, Abby. She's not the same."
Ziva stopped listening, trying hard to tune him out and focusing on Tony's steady heartbeat instead.
Because Tim was right.
They had broken her. She was nothing but a shell. An empty, homeless, unloved shell. They had taken away her hope, her pride, her dignity, and most importantly her love for life. She wasn't one to wallow in self pity, but she felt right now like she was completely... Worthless.
The men who had saved her deserved more than this broken shell of a woman.
She wasn't sure how many times she had begged for death. She had been sure that it would come soon, and her pain would stop. She was rescued, but she had been counting on the fact that her pain would be eliminated soon, in death. Now, the release of death was not an option and the only choice she had was to face her pain.
Why did they have to save her?
They got nothing out of this. All they had now was a beaten up team and a woman who they could no longer love.
A tear ran down her cheek. She angrily wiped it away, chastising herself for her weakness. She was undeserving of their love. Everything that had happened to her in that camp had been justified. She deserved this pain and a hell of a lot more. She couldn't help but feel guilty for getting out alive.
She had tortured people before. Many people. She had heard their screams of pain and ignored it, causing them more and more pain.
Things seem a lot different from this side of the knife.
And fist. And whip. And car battery. And every other instrument of torture she had ever used.
She almost broke down right there. The faces of all the people she had ever hurt floated before her face. She had often joked that she couldn't remember the names of all the people she had killed or hurt.
It was a lie. She knew them all by name. She remembers how she hurt them, when she did it, and the look on their faces as they felt the pain.
It hadn't hit her before this. But in that cell, all she could see were their faces. When Saleem took her leg and crushed every single bone in her foot, she remembered the Italian operative she had done that to to get answers. She remembers everything with precise detail, which makes it all the more hell.
She deserved the pain, the agony, the suffering. She deserved it all.
She did not deserve to be saved.
Abby's arms were around her, holding her delicately in a way that Ziva didn't know she was capable of. The various injuries that had healed somewhat, yet had still caused her extreme pain, screamed in protest. She had managed to downplay the pain she was in and fool the team, but she knew she couldn't fool Ducky, who looked on at the scene with a knowing look on his face.
He had seen torture. He had treated it. He knew that look in her eyes.
The look only seen on a person who was resigned to death.
Everything seemed too loud. Too bright. Too clean. Too happy. She needed to be alone. This was all too much.
Ducky motioned for her to follow him, and she did so gladly. They stayed silent for the trip down to autopsy, but the pain in her eyes and the careful way she walked did not escape his notice. He knew she was suffering, but was taking it all in stride and was refusing to acknowledge her pain. She refused to ask for help.
It was a painful process for her, but she somehow managed to hoist her beaten body up onto the autopsy table.
He took note of all her injuries, trying to take the least invasive route possible. It was still necessary for her to undress, however. When he requested that she do so, he saw the fear flash in her eyes. As quick as it came, it was gone, however. It was replaced by a steely resolve and a brave look.
Ducky wished she knew she didn't have to be brave for him.
Her breathing sped up a little as she took off her clothes. As good as it felt to be free of the dirty and bloody material, she couldn't stand it. She couldn't stand feeling completely exposed, baring her scars for all to see.
She laid down on the table, trying to ignore the feeling of dread and horror as she felt the eyes of a man raking up and down her naked body. She closed her eyes, attempting to focus only on the cool metal below her. But it didn't work. She needed to see what was going on.
She watched Ducky inspect her. When he came to her legs and noticed the familiar bruising pattern, he looked to her with compassion and sorrow in his gaze. She looked away.
She didn't want their pity. She did not deserve to be pitied. She did not deserve compassion and sorrow for her pain.
She did not deserve love.
She spaced out while he examined her. There was not much he could do, her wounds were nearly healed by now. All he could do was clean the wounds, patch her up a little, and hand her a bottle of painkillers. She didn't hear him tell her how many to take. She wasn't planning on taking any. She deserved to suffer through this the whole way.
She tried not to look at the X-rays. But she couldn't resist. She saw all the fractures and breaks that had healed. She saw her foot, which had cracks all over it. When he asked her if it hurt, she said no.
She lied. It hurt like hell to walk on it.
Ducky gave her a skeptic glance, but gave her a brace and told her to use it and stay off the foot as much as possible.
So naturally, Ziva decided she would forgo the brace and go for a run when she got back home.
Home. With a pang she realized that she had no home. Her home had been blown up.
Naturally, Gibbs and Tony and McGee had offered to let her stay with them.
And she, of course, had declined. She would go and stay at the Navy Lodge.
When she left Ducky's, she headed back up to the squad-room. They all stood up when she came into sight, a fact that Ziva sort of resented. It made her feel weak. They would never dared to have done that before, and the fact that they did now was like a blow.
She was weak.
"I would like to go home now," Ziva said. Gibbs nodded.
"DiNozzo. Drive her to the Navy Lodge," Gibbs ordered. Tony nodded.
"Yes, Boss," he replied, picking up his things and heading towards the elevator.
"That is not necessary. I will take a cab-"
"Necessary my ass, Ziva. NCIS rented out two rooms, one for you and one for your detail," Tony told her, pointing to himself.
"I do not need a babysitter!"
"You aren't well, Ziver. Someone's gotta stay with you. You do have a choice in this. It's go to the Lodge with Tony, or spend the night in the hospital. You pick," Gibbs shrugged. He knew he had won. Ziva sighed.
"Fine," she growled, heading to the elevator, trying her best not to limp. Tony followed her.
"You won't even know I'm there, Zee-VAH," Tony promised. Her heart gave a little pang when she heard him say her name like that.
Like old times.
This wasn't old times. Things would never be the same again.
The drive was spent in an awkward silence. Tony, for the first time, simply couldn't think of what to say.
Ziva was glad.
When they pulled up to the Navy Lodge, Tony went to get them checked in. He gave her the room key, and they headed together up to the second floor. Ziva went inside of her room, and Tony lingered in the doorway.
"Go, Tony. I am fine," she assured him. After a moment's hesitation, he heaved a sigh and went next-door.
After setting down the brace and painkillers Ducky had given her on a table by the door, Zivs took a look around the room. It consisted of a bathroom to her right, and further into the room was a desk, and a comfortable-looking bed that seemed to call to her. But the need to clean herself from the desert filth was overpowering. She forgot about the bed, and went to the bathroom. She could take a bath, the thought was inviting, but she was afraid that if she did the desire to go under the water and never come back up would be overpowering. She knew she couldn't kill herself. She hadn't suffered nearly enough for her sins.
So she turned the shower head to the right all the way, until it was so hot it burned her skin. It hurt, but she needed to cleanse herself of him.
No matter how hard she scrubbed, she didn't feel clean.
Eventually, once her hair was untangled and the grime of three months in the desert had swirled down the drain, she turned off the water and wrapped herself in a towel. She accidentally stepped in front of a mirror, and gasped.
Who was this woman? She was pale, her cheekbones sunken. Her eyes no longer held life. Her lips were cracked and her body was covered in scars. Now, seeing herself as others did, she was horrified.
How could they love her anymore? She was so obviously worthless.
She managed to tear her eyes away from the mirror, but when she did she realized she had no clothes. She could not put back on her clothing she had worn in the desert. She knew she could not, the purpose of the shower would be completely defeated. Taking a deep breath, she hung up the towel and went out of the bathroom.
She hated being naked. It brought back memories that she tried so hard to bury. It made her feel exposed and vulnerable.
She decided that she should remain naked for that reason. She deserved to suffer.
Shaking, she pulled back the comforter and laid down on the bed, flicking off the lamp. The room was engulfed in complete darkness. She shivered and pulled the comforter around her wounded body, curling up into a ball. She knew she should forgo the blankets and force herself to suffer through the night cold, exposed, and scared. But she simply couldn't. She was only human. Nothing seemed better to her right now than a good night's sleep. She couldn't deny herself all of the good things in life. She had already refused food. She knew that she had to drink water, but she could go a long while without food. It would painful and torturous, she knew that from experience, but she deserved nothing less. She hadn't eaten since they got back, and she planned to keep it that way for at least two more days. Food was a luxury she was not worthy of.
That, and so many other things.
They had come too soon. They had saved her too soon.
She does not deserve food. She does not deserve clothes. She does not deserve to be loved!
Lying there, completely naked in a bed that was not hers, in a place that was not her own, without even clothes on her back to her name, she realized something.
She truly had nothing. She had nothing left in this world.
Nothing at all.
A/N: sorry if Ziva seems a little... Masochistic. But if you even read this you know why.
This was originally going to be a What Could Have Been installment, called What Could Have Been- Truth or Consequences (the fact that there could even be a WCHB for that Epi says a lot, huh?) but I wanted it to be more than one chapter.
Please review! There will be more comfort in the chapters to come. This was mostly hurt.
Leave a review if u think I should continue!