My apologies to everyone that I've been a lazy shit and haven't updated in nearly two months. Hopefully, you'll all still stick by me as we begin to near... well, a little beyond the halfway point now. And hopefully, this long chapter makes up for the wait. To those who are still wondering about the camera and the mystery behind it, I promise I'll get there. Just bear with me for now as we get stuff out of the way. Also I'm going to stop saying that I'll try to take less than a month to update because that's never the case. So please leave a review or something if you're still around.
:: Chapter 35 – And Hera ::
On a particular week, we caught a case that we thought would be simple. A petty officer and a lieutenant were murdered and we had to go to investigate. Gibbs sent me and McGee to talk to a potential suspect.
When we were leaving the bullpen, Tony and McGee exchanged these glances between each other that could have come off as eye sex to anyone, but was something different – and more than just a glance between each other. They probably thought I did not notice, but then again, they were being so obvious, that who would not have noticed?
In the car, I asked McGee about it. He had the keys in the ignition when I asked, almost squirming as though I was going to punish him like a little boy. "What was that look?" I asked.
"What look?" he asked.
"That look you gave Tony."
"What look I gave Tony?"
I reached out and pulled on his ear. To him, it felt like a million needles jabbing at every inch of his body, but then again, he thought I was the only person who could inflict that kind of pain without inflicting that kind of pain.
"Oww, oww, oww! Okay!" he gave in. I let his ear go and he straightened out on his seat. "I'll tell you, but I don't know if you want to hear the full story for this…" He changed his mind about that when I started reaching for his ear again. "Okay, fine," he said with a little flinch. "I'll tell you."
I waited for him to begin.
"You know when you stayed over at Gibbs's house?"
Why did he have to make it seem like Gibbs and I had a very girly sleepover? It was not like I asked to stay overnight at his house, much less know about it. "Of course."
"Well, Abby and I decided to invite DiNozzo out to eat, and, well… he wasn't in the best of moods."
"What do you mean he wasn't in the best of moods?" And why did I not know Tony went out with McGee and Abby until now?
McGee sighed. "With everything that's happened lately, he kind of just needed someone to talk to. Of course, it's not like he would actually admit that, so Abby and I took him out to eat."
"And…" He paused for a moment as if he was trying to form a believable excuse in his mind. "He's worried about you. We're all worried about you," he added. "He's scared to leave you alone because who knows if you might… you know."
"Might what?" I asked a little sharply.
"Don't make me say it, Ziva. You know what."
I could understand his concern. Even I did not trust myself to be alone anywhere. But I was not all too crazy about having to hear about this at a time like now.
"So what else happened?" I asked him.
He thought about it. Maybe he was pretending to remember what happened to avoid telling me something that I might not have wanted to hear. "Abby's been wondering if you really liked the hippo she gave you."
"She has," he said in a defensive tone. "She'll hardly sleep. She wants to know for sure that you liked the hippo."
"I liked it, McGee. Must you continue dragging this out?"
"I do not believe that Abby loses sleep over that." I stopped asking about that night because knowing a nervous McGee, I was not bound to get answers from him. At all. I made a mental note to ask Tony when we got home tonight. The rest of the ride was done in silence. We probably would have spoken if the tension and awkwardness had not been weighing heavily in the air.
We arrived at the house of the potential suspect, but everything after that was mostly a blur. McGee and I stepped out of the car, and the first thing we heard was a ruckus going on from the house next door. I looked over at McGee. We were thinking the same thing, for the most part. The yelling, a man and a woman's voice, was becoming far too much to ignore.
"Go check it out," he said to me. "I'll go on ahead here."
I stepped out into the front yard of the noisy people – but there were no noisy people in sight. I stepped up to the front porch, hoping to see if I could catch a glimpse of the people having a screaming match through the screen door, but I saw no one, just continued to hear the yelling. A perfect distraction it was from whatever force of nature, or the planet, or the universe was that was also causing my life to go downhill. I only remember a loud explosion coming from the suspect's house next door.
"Hey, Ziva, focus."
I'd been watching Gibbs talk to a doctor for who-knew-how-long now, waiting to see if there would be any change in his facial expressions. His face was impassive for the most part, and I would love to say that that was a good thing, but Gibbs's face was almost always stoic-looking, so in reality, it told me nothing. Abby and Tony were trying to get my attention, but my mind was elsewhere. None of us wanted to, let alone actually dared to, interrupt Gibbs while he was talking to the doctor, and I'm sure they were getting impatient trying to get answers out of me.
But the problem was that I had no answers. I was almost as clueless as they were.
I felt a hand grab my shoulder and shake me a little. It was Abby's hand. I knew I had to keep my eyes on Gibbs in case I missed something. Tony said something, and then Abby's hand was gone from my shoulder. I did not catch what Tony said, but I did hear a little bit of the conversation after that.
"Tony," Abby whined in a way that I just knew she was near tears, "Ziva's the one that knows what happened, and she's not saying anything."
"I don't care," he snapped. "Stop trying to force an answer out of her. She'll talk when she's ready."
I did not catch anything after that. Gibbs had suddenly moved away from my eyesight, although my eyes remained glued to the wall. I could hear Gibbs's voice when he came to us, but I was not listening to a word he was saying. In the back of my mind, I knew Abby must have been ticked with me and that McGee would have been disappointed to know that whatever Gibbs was saying about him, I was not even listening. He should have expected that from me, in any case. I did almost get everyone killed in a moving car anyway, so why expect anything less from me?
I felt a hand on my cheek, but the hand was not the familiar gentleness I'd grown to recognize. And no wonder – it was Gibbs. He was sitting on my right-hand side. Tony was on my other side, but Abby was not there. The question was splattered on my face, along with confusion, and although Gibbs knew this, he did not say anything about her.
"Ziver," he said quietly, "listen to me. I need for you to focus right now. On me. Okay?"
"I need you to tell me what happened before the explosion," he went on. I felt a comforting hand on my back, but it was as though Gibbs felt it, too, because the next thing I knew, he said, "DiNozzo. Go to McGee's room."
Tony began to argue, "But, Boss…"
"Tony," Gibbs interrupted patiently, "just go. Let me talk to Ziva for a few minutes."
Tony complied and left, not that he was given a choice anyway. After he disappeared through the doors, Gibbs turned to me and said, "McGee's alright. He has a few cuts and bruises, but he's fine. They want to keep him overnight just to be safe, but he'll live."
It was a big explosion I heard. And McGee must have been standing close enough to get severely injured. There was no way he could get away with just some cuts and bruises. I tried to think about everything I know I had seen after I heard the explosion, but nothing was coming to me, disturbingly so.
"I know this is always scary," Gibbs continued, "but I need you to tell me what you know."
Again, I went back in my mind to try and replay what had happened. The scariest thing was that I had almost no recollection of what happened. I tried to think, to search my mind for something that had happened less than five hours ago, and nothing came to me. It was as though everything had been literally wiped away from my memory. I only remembered that my heart dropped after hearing the loud boom, and then I remembered nothing more. Now that I thought about it, I did not even remember how I got here. If I rode in an ambulance, I don't know. If I rode with someone else, I don't know that either.
"Ziva?" Gibbs was trying to pull my attention back to him.
I realized I had been looking away from him. There was patience and understanding in his face, but I was sure that would change. I expected nothing less than disappointment when I told him that I could literally not remember anything.
"Tell me what happened."
"I-I don't know."
He almost gave me a raised-eyebrow, are-you-serious-right-now look. Almost.
"I don't know, Abba," I said, and it almost rolled off my tongue easily, not that I was paying attention to that small detail at the moment. "I don't remember."
"Do you remember anything?"
He did not look disappointed, not right away. But he was, and I knew it. It made me feel yet again as though we could have been close to solving something, but it depended on me, and I became the most useless thing on the planet and screwed everything up. I could not remember anything, anything at all, to help him out, and I failed. To put it in simple, direct words: I failed.
"It's fine, Ziva." The elephant in the room begged to differ. Nothing was okay; nothing was fine. "You should go home, rest, and when something comes to you, you let me know."
"I want to see McGee first," I told him.
We quietly stood up, and in that same way, we rode the elevator up to the floor where McGee's room was in. I did not bother to look or ask in what floor his room was stationed in. I was dreading what was coming. I knew Abby would come and ask Gibbs what I told him, and he would have to tell her that I could not remember anything, and she would be disappointed. Tony would be disappointed too, but he would have better sense than to let it show as bluntly as Abby probably would.
Abby wore her disappointment like a cloak, as I knew she would. She and Gibbs gave each other a glance that required no words. The look on her face did not need any words either. The one person who could help could not help. Who else would not have felt what she felt?
I went inside McGee's room with hesitation. How would he react when he saw me? How would he react overall? Abby and Tony gave no complaints about him, but…. What ifs were going through my mind like crazy, even though when I stepped inside, he looked perfectly okay. He was smiling, almost.
I hung back a little by the door, trying to see if I could overhear anything said just outside the room. McGee thought I was avoiding him.
"You can come closer, Ziva," he said. "I don't have leprosy."
I stepped closer, letting him believe what he wanted to believe. When I stepped closer to him, I could see the full extent of the explosion's aftermath – and it was hardly anything. He had a few scratches on his face, and there were probably some first-degree burns on his arms, but not many. He looked fine. I could not understand how he could be like that when the boom I heard was loud enough to shake all of DC.
"You know," he began to say, "I'm fine. I feel fine. I don't know why I can't go home tonight."
I was trying to think of something to say, but nothing was coming to me. I looked like a nervous idiot.
"Ziva?" McGee sounded concerned now. I looked at him. "Are you okay?"
"Fine," I managed.
"You don't look fine." He gave me no time to answer. "Sit." He patted the little bit of space next to him on the bed.
I sat down awkwardly. Everything was getting more and more awkward by the second. I wanted to run out of the room and forget about him, forget about Abby and the look on her face, forget my life ever happened. Instead, I let chaos race though my mind and sat almost statue-like on the edge of the hospital bed, feeling like if I moved, I would break something.
"Do you know what happened?" he asked me. I should have seen that one coming.
"Besides the obvious?"
"I don't remember."
"I don't remember either."
He was probably unconscious during said time that neither one of us apparently remembered about.
"Look," he went on, "this is the weirdest thing I've ever gone through. After I heard the explosion, everything is mostly a blur. It was… loud. I remember feeling like my whole body was on fire, but I couldn't do anything about it. And then… I don't remember what happened. Now I'm here, and I'm fine. I've got a few scratches only, I'm kind of sore, but I'm okay. That doesn't make sense." He looked dead serious when he said, "I have a feeling I should be almost dead right now."
It was a good thing Abby was not there to hear that. That reminded me of something that made my heart skip a beat. I was lost in my own thoughts, only to have McGee interrupt them again.
"Ziva? You're being really quiet right now. What's wrong?"
What wasn't wrong? Everything was wrong about this.
"McGee... I don't remember anything," I admitted. "It is as if my memory has been partially erased. After I heard the explosion, I really don't remember anything else that happened after that."
"This is really weird. I should be more banged up – way more banged up. But I'm fine. I feel fine. I don't get it."
Our eyes met, and I suddenly had a scary thought. I looked away, but before I did, I caught a glimpse of his facial expression, and for a moment, we both thought the exact same thing. I wanted to be sure, but I did not want to ask. I tried to stand up and do anything besides sit still and feel confined, but McGee grabbed my arm and pulled me back.
"What did you just think of?" he asked.
I raised an eyebrow at him, but he saw right through me.
"Oh, you know what I mean, Ziva. You just made this face like you had a sudden thought."
"So what?" I shot back. "I am always thinking. I have a lot on my mind."
"Yeah, well, this time it was different." A moment of silence edged its way between us. "You're not gonna tell me?"
"Nothing to tell."
"I'll find out, Ziva. I will."
I was surprised to know that he would be staying alone overnight in the hospital. He told me that Abby had insisted on her staying with him, but he had to talk her out of it. She was not convinced he was fully okay. After all, he'd said, that time when Abby was in the hospital, she didn't let him stay with her overnight, so this was a bit of an unplanned payback.
Still, I thought someone should have stayed with him, no matter how much he insisted he would be fine. I would have volunteered if I could have, but that would have been plain weird. The thoughts that this was all my fault and that I let this happen were coming back to me. I knew I had to leave the room before I became an inconsolable mess.
Before I left, McGee grabbed my arm again and stopped me and said, "Ziva. I don't know what's going on in your head right now, but whatever it is, I just want to tell you that this is not your fault." I did not protest, and that probably made him think that he was right. And he was, but I did not want to show that to him. "You couldn't have known," he went on. "I didn't know. It's not your fault, okay?"
I nodded. I could not bring myself to believe it.
"I'll be okay by myself here. Tell Abby she has nothing to worry about. I feel fine. I'm okay."
"That's what they all say," I muttered.
He looked right at me, but I was not looking back at him. With that, he let me go, "It's what you always say."
Abby was not going to make it through the night alone.
That was the first thing that came to my mind once we exited the hospital. I would have relayed McGee's message to her, but she had not spoken to me once I stepped out of his room. She left with Gibbs, who also said nothing to me when we left. I thought she was probably mad at me for not telling her what she thought I knew. I knew nothing. I remembered nothing. It was awful. Even Tony became silent in the car ride home, something I was not really expecting.
When we got home, I could feel the ambience of the house heavier than usual. I wondered if Tony felt it because it would be pretty hard to miss. It was normally weird around here, but today was just different. But I said nothing. There were way too many things going around in my mind for me to stop and tell Tony about the house, of all things I could say.
Tony turned the TV on in the living room. Was he ignoring me? I acted like it did not bother me and headed straight for our bedroom. It was strangely cold. What was even happening?
The house felt weird, everyone was seemingly ignoring me or mad at me, and I could not remember what happened before, despite the fact that it happened not too long ago, that nightmares would come, inevitably so, should sleep even find me that night.
I sat down on the edge of the bed, observed my surroundings. I sat there for a while, or at least it felt like a while, until Tony came in.
"Should we get take-out tonight?"
I blinked, let that sink in for a moment. Of all things to say, should we get take-out was the number one thing? I shrugged. "Don't care." And why should I? Eating was not exactly my preferred hobby lately.
"Or would you prefer pizza?"
"Tony, I don't care." That came out a little harsher than I intended.
There was a pause before he sat down next to me. "You know, McGee has never looked better. There are a few scratches and all, but aside from that, he looks great. I've seen him look worse in lesser situations, so to speak. He's still in one piece, so–"
"That's not funny."
He gave me that look again, that look that asked me if I was okay, that made me question my own sanity, if I even had any left. In short, the look almost everyone gave me lately, as though I were crazy. He was about to ask me what I meant, but he only got less than half of that out before I interrupted and answered him myself.
"I didn't want to mention anything to McGee, but… it just came to me."
"What did?" he wanted to know.
"The whole explosion thing, it just… it reminds me of Tali and the video. She didn't end up in one piece. Far from it actually."
He hesitated for a moment, once again searching his mind for the appropriate thing to say. "I know. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to poke fun at McGee. I'm glad he's okay. It could have been worse. He could've been dead. I'm just surprised that he looks the way he does. I'd expect him to be worse. Much, much worse."
Yet another mystery to keep me awake at night, trying to wrap my small mind around it. I heard the boom of the explosion, and I remember how the ground shook from its impact. McGee should not have been alive. I should have remembered things; I should not have blocked everything out, even if I had not done that on purpose. I should have been able to remember things clearly, should have been helping out instead of sitting on the sideline, watching from a distance as someone else tried to put the puzzle pieces that I should have been able to piece little by little together.
Tony tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. "Is there anything you remember about what happened there?"
I shook my head, the feeling of uselessness returning again. It would not go away until everyone stopped asking me that question, and even then, it would probably still stay.
"No," I said. "It's as if everything has literally been wiped away from my memory." He looked like he was taking what I just said into consideration. "I cannot remember anything. At all. Nothing."
It was as if it never happened. I had zero recollection. It was scary, but I was too busy being frustrated with my stupid self to let that part sink in – yet.
Tony did not know what to say. He was glaring at the ground as if he was in deep thought.
"You believe me, right?" I asked him.
"Are you really asking me this?" He did not wait for me to answer him, as he took my hand in his. "Of course I believe you." And with everything that had been happening lately, how could he honestly not? I just needed to be sure. Sometimes it felt like it was only me against the world – and that the world was winning.
I felt like my food was staring right back at me. It looked disgusting and the whole no-appetite thing was not really helping. With my fork, I tossed my food around my plate, trying to somehow make the food seem like there was less with each toss.
Tony was up to his third plate of Chinese food. Three bites later, I was not very good at making it seem like I ate much.
"Do you know what the distance between the Earth and the sun is?" Tony said.
"About ninety-three million miles," he answered. "I learned that from Who Wants to be a Millionaire once."
There was a brief moment of silence before he came up with something entertaining and rather absurd at the same time. "In Greek mythology, Zeus was married to Hera, and–" And, yeah I know about this, "she was just like this jealous bitch who would punish Zeus's girlfriends instead of him. He liked to sleep around a lot. Could you imagine McGee being Zeus and Abby being Hera?"
He was serious? My face asked him that question.
"Like imagine McGee being the ruler of the world, the god all of the gods, and Abby being this jealous wife who tortures all his girlfriends?"
I had to admit that the whole Abby-Hera thing was not that hard to imagine. She was usually nice to people, but she could also be the biggest bitch ever – and sometimes to people she cared about and were her friends. McGee as Zeus was honestly laughable. And Tony let it be known.
"Well, I could never imagine McGee being Zeus. Ever. That's just not happening."
I tuned him out, thinking about McGee was in the hospital. Was he bored? Stupid question; of course he was bored. He was in a hospital. There was not much to do there. Did Abby go and stay with him despite the fact that he insisted he would be fine alone? Was he honestly blaming me for what happened? I did not blame him if he blamed me. I blamed me too. It was always my fault; I really did not know why no one else could see that.
Tony kind of stopped talking; but I had him tuned out anyway and just suddenly blurted something out before stopping to think if I should say it out loud and ruin more things.
"I am no help, am I?"
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see him turn to me like I had just admitted to killing ten people. He was pretty shocked, which did not surprise me, because I was shocked that I even said that, too. I mean, I knew the answer, but sometimes I liked to form the words in my head before I said them – everything I did not just do.
"I said I am no hel–"
"I heard what you said," he interrupted back. "What do you mean you're no help?"
I tossed a bit of rice to the other side of the plate. "Everyone wants to know what happened today. We want to be able to catch whoever put McGee in the hospital. And I can't help. I can't remember what happened or anything. I am no help at all."
"That's not true, Ziva. It's not like you see McGee or any one of us getting blown up every single day." Although people certainly liked to try to go to extreme lengths to see that happen. "It's normal for you to block things out sometimes. Especially you if you've already seen way more than a person should."
But that was just it. I'd seen everything and anything anyone could think of. Should I not be used to it already? Should I not have remembered almost every single detail about today? I couldn't, and it was a problem, even if no one wanted to admit it.
"McGee must be so disappointed."
"No, he's not. McGee's fine, and that's what most important right now. He doesn't blame you. I don't blame you. Abby and Gibbs don't blame you. Only you blame yourself, and you shouldn't."
Still – Tali. It was eerie how some things could be so similar. The only most notable difference was that McGee was actually alive. There were a few other differences, but that was the most important one.
"You know, Ziva," Tony continued, "you don't give yourself enough credit sometimes. You're stronger than you think you are. You have to stop being so hard on yourself and beating yourself up for things that, for the most part, you don't have any control over. Even if you don't remember anything right now, something will come to you soon. It may not be today, or tomorrow, or the day after that, but it will come. And even if you don't remember anything, we'll catch that guy. We always do."
But it was so hard to believe anything positive when everything was so negative, and it was hard to see past my own uselessness. Our conversation was quickly cut short by a knock on the front door. Tony and I glanced at each other in surprise. We did not really get lots of visitors, if any, so who could have been knocking at our door?
This is it, I thought dramatically. This is it. There's probably a killer outside with a gun, just waiting to shoot us to death. I had to bite back how strangely relaxing that idea sounded to me, to finally slip away from this rollercoaster called life and settle into completely nothingness…
"I wonder who's at the door."
I looked at Tony and said, "Answer it." Or don't. I didn't really care.
"Who could be visiting us at this time? Really."
"Just answer the door."
I said this to him, but we both went up to the door anyway. Whoever was on the other side was getting impatient and knocking to the point where it was getting annoying. I stood on one side, while Tony looked through the peephole. He looked both surprised and not amused at the same time. Unless McGee escaped from the hospital and was standing there in a hospital gown with no underwear on, I did not know who could have been standing there.
He answered both of our question when he whispered, "It's Abby."
So Hera was standing outside our door. Speak of the devil. "What is she doing?"
"I don't know. She looks kinda pissed. Or sad. I don't know. I can't really tell."
I said the words I had no idea if I would regret later on or not, "Let her in then."
Tony gave me a hesitating glance before he opened the door. I hung back on the side of the door so that I would not be the first one Abby saw when the door opened. Tony barely got to invite her in when he opened the door; she merely grumbled, "Took you long enough," and stepped past him.
We exchanged a glance.
"Why don't you come right in?" Tony said sarcastically.
"Sorry," Abby turned around to face us. "I just have a lot on my mind right now." Join the freaking club. "I can't stop thinking about Tim."
"You also have a lot in your hands," he pointed out. "What's going on?"
Abby looked down at the bags she was holding. "Don't kill me," was the first thing she said, which made me think she was going to say something that was going to make me want to reach out and strangle her, "but I was wondering if I could stay over tonight. I thought I could just sleep the night away, but I can't sleep. I don't want to be alone. Not while Tim is in the hospital. I just don't want to be alone at all. So how 'bout it?" She raised her eyebrows in hope that we were going to say yes and take her in like a puppy.
Tony looked at me, as though my answer would finalize everything. I shrugged at him, keeping any eye contact with Hera at a minimum. He took this as a yes (let's be honest, could we ever even say no to her?), and said, "Okay. Why not?"
"Thank you guys so much," she said with a sigh of relief, as if she was honestly not even expecting either one of us to let her stay over. "I appreciate it. I owe you."
Tony ignored that. "Do you want to eat something?"
Abby shrugged. "I guess."
"Have you eaten at all today, Abbs?"
"Just breakfast… with Tim. This morning."
"That's all you've eaten today then?"
Abby shrugged again. "Guess so."
"Well," Tony began, suppressing a sigh, "we have Chinese rice. Want some?"
I settled down on the couch and folded my legs underneath me as Tony served Abby some food. For someone who was presumably not so hungry (considering the circumstances and the effects it could have on a person, something I was unfortunately very familiar with), she sure devoured her food. And then she went for a second round. And a third. Until I was convinced she would ask Tony to go against her in a game of "how many plates of food can I eat before I finally throw up."
Tony seemed to have forgotten that I only took a few bites out of my plate and stopped eating – which was okay by me; I wasn't hungry. I was hardly ever hungry anymore. I was always too tired, but never hungry enough. It never worked out. I had a lingering feeling that if it wasn't for Tony, I would be slowly killing myself, and it was great. Admittedly horrible, admittedly great.
"Tim hasn't called you guys, right?"
I looked over at Abby, who was stuffing the last of the Chinese rice into her mouth. And then they had enough space in their stomach to go for dessert. Dessert. It disgusted me.
"No," Tony replied. "He called you?"
"Just once. He mostly just wanted to rest. I don't blame him. I'd want to sleep too if I'd been almost blown up to pieces."
That comment made my stomach churn, but I played it cool. Hera probably did not know that I still wore the guilt on me about as obvious as anything. She was probably dying to ask me if I remembered anything about today and itching to get an answer. But I still felt like this was my fault; in fact, I knew it was. I should have known. I could have stopped it ahead of time.
"Well, it's a good thing McGee's alright. That's all that matters," Tony said quietly, as if he could already tell that the comment bothered me, despite the amount of time he spent trying to convince me that nothing was my fault.
"Yeah," Hera agreed. She glanced over at me, and I wondered if she was expecting me to say that, yeah, I was glad McGee was okay, too and that it was the least I could hope for since I did get him into this mess. She quickly changed the subject, probably catching on to the mood that hung around. "Anyway, guys, I'm really glad you're letting me stay over. I didn't think I was going to make it through the night alone."
"No problem, Abbs. The more, the merrier," Tony joked half-heartedly.
"I can take the couch if you want. Hell, I'll sleep in the bathtub if you want me to."
"It's okay, Abbs. You and Ziva can take our room. I can take the couch. No big deal."
Why did he always dump me with her? I always ended up having to share a room with her, and quite frankly, it was kind of starting to get on my nerves. Abby knew how to push people's buttons, especially mine. I pretended not to notice her, even when she said, "But, Tony, what about your back?"
He snorted as if she was stupid for even asking such a thing. "You never actually believed the whole 'bad back' story, did you?"
Tony had fallen asleep in our room, despite the fact that he said he would take the couch. Abby said she would be taking a shower, but ended up staying in the bathroom longer than we thought she would. We had no idea what she was doing in there, even when the water was not running. Tony and I were in bed, talking, but he fell asleep, and when he did, I put our blanket over him and left to the living room. It was dark, though not pitch-black. The surface light from the microwave in the kitchen was on, but it was still impossible to see a lot until my eyes got kind of adjusted.
I sat back down on the couch, crossed my feet, and closed my eyes. My mind immediately went back to earlier today. My mind immediately created a scene of McGee getting blown up and how it could have gone, but I still could not remember. The more I dwelled on the fact that I could not remember what happened, the angrier I got with myself. I seriously could have done better than this. I could have helped if I only remembered something. I should have remembered something. Maybe I would not be such a disappointment to everyone.
Oh, who was I kidding? I would always be the disappointment, the one who was never good enough.
I buried my face in my hands, keeping my eyes shut. Albeit it was silent around the house for the most part, inside my head was chaos. Thoughts were running around at one-thousand miles per second, some slow enough for me to pick out and dwell on. At one point, I blocked out everything that was happening around me and only limited myself to everything that was going on inside my mind; I almost could have missed the light flop of the person who sat next to me on the couch.
"What are you saying?"
The chaos in my head stopped. I turned to look at Abby, who was now seated next to me, and waited for my eyes to adjust again to the darkness.
"You were saying something in Hebrew. I didn't understand what you were saying."
Was I? I did not notice. I shrugged lightly.
One thing I noticed was that her hair was damp, just towel-dried. She smelled like Tony's body wash, which was kind of weird, as I did not really want to smell Tony on Abby. She adjusted herself on the couch, and I pushed myself further into the arm of the couch.
"I'm guessing Tony fell asleep already," she went on. "So much for supposedly making that whole 'bad back' thing up. It's okay, though. I really don't mind sleeping on the couch. I like the couch. I'll even take the floor if I have to."
I felt terrible for wondering in my head if she would take the porch outside if she had to. There was a moment of silence before she spoke – again.
"You know, Ziva," she started, "you haven't said one word to me since I got here."
Really? I had not noticed that either. Well, I knew, but it was not something I was particularly focusing on.
What could I say? If I said something, she would get pissed. She would probably slap me (even if she promised she would never do it again). She would show her disappointment as obviously as she always did. She would do everything wrong and leave me to feel worse than I already did.
"No, you haven't. This is the first thing you've said to me since I came."
No, really, what could I even say? I rather not talk to you, because then you'll answer me, and I'm going to feel like hurling you out the window. I would just not say anything at all, then. "Sorry," I settled with. "I guess I had not noticed."
A small sigh emitted from her, but I could not tell if it was out of irritation or if she was tired or something else. I thought we were both just going to sit there in the dark, eventually fall asleep (if sleep visited me tonight, anyway), but she broke the silence again. In the midst of it all, I was grateful that I did not have to try to come up with something to say to break whatever tension was there.
"You know," she said, "today, I was feeling kind of upset." No kidding, Abby. "I mean, well, today has been a mixture of emotions with everything that's happened. It was just a normal day at work and everything, and then, before I knew it, Tim was in the hospital. I just died a little when I heard that. I hate hospitals. Nothing good comes out of them. And you could only expect the worst when you hear your boyfriend's in the hospital, you know?" She took a deep breath as I wondered where she was going to go with this. "And then I was told that you were there when it happened. Well, not along with McGee; otherwise, you'd be in the hospital, too. But I mean, you were with him. Somewhere. You were around, is what I mean. And when we got to the hospital and I saw you, but you weren't saying anything, I was just so upset. It was like I was so close, yet so far."
Well, Abby, you lucked out, because I don't remember anything. Nothing. Nada. It was the most frustrating thing ever, second to this one thing called life.
"I'm…" She paused for a moment. I continued to gaze at her until she went on. "I'm okay now. I thought I'd be angry for the rest of the night, but I'm not. Besides, you and Tony are letting me stay here for the night, which I'm thankful for." She dropped by completely unexpectedly. I didn't think we could just say no and slam the door on her face.
"Timmy is okay," she continued. "He's perfectly fine. I should be angry, I guess, because we don't know who did this, but he's okay. He's alive. That's all that matters right now."
Well, that did nothing to make me feel better. I just nodded at her, and I knew she could see me in the dark. I could see her reach out and before I could even react or flinch, she had her hand over mine. "Are you okay, Ziva?"
I answered quickly, quickly enough to make anyone think I was lying. "I am fine."
She sighed again and inched closer to me, since I did not. "No, you're not. You're never okay."
And I did not know if that word would ever be a part of my vocabulary again, or if I would ever even live to see it. No, I was not okay. I wished sometimes people would stop asking me that, especially if they already knew the answer to it. Okay was a long way from here, from me.
I heard myself say the words before I could even stop myself. "I am sorry, Abby. I wish I could help with what happened today."
"What are you sorry for?" she asked as though she was legitimately surprised that I even said that word.
"I should have been able to help," I answered, and I thought she understood. "I could not help. At all."
There was a somewhat sharp intake of breath from her, but I had no idea what that even meant. "Ziva, stop," she said. "I may have been nothing short of annoyed today, but you can't do everything. You can only do so much, no matter how invincible people make you out to be. Whoever is behind this – we'll find him. We have Gibbs. Gibbs will find anyone. Stop blaming this on yourself. You know it's not your fault."
I was not in the mood to argue, so I did not. But the mere mention of it's not your fault made me want to gauge someone's eyes out. Why couldn't they just see what I saw?
Suddenly, Tony's voice startled the two of us.
"Hmm. A girl-on-girl party," he said. "How come I wasn't informed?"
"First of all," Abby began as she took a pillow from the couch and hurled it at him for the stupid comment. He caught it. "You fell asleep, dummy. And secondly, Ziva and I were just talking."
"'Course you were." He made his way over and motioned for me to scoot over so he could sit beside me. "You can still take the bed, Abbs. I can take the couch."
"No, Tony, take your own bed. I'm fine with the couch, honest. I like the couch anyway. It's comfortable."
Let's put it this way: nobody took the bed. I put my head down on Tony's shoulder, and Abby buried her face into my neck and linked her fingers through mine. It was odd at first. It was deathly quiet inside the house, and I was in a position I had not quite been in before. But even if just a glimmer, it made me feel like I was safe, like there was hope, and like I did not have to go through these things alone.