[ A/N: Inspired by the lyrics to "No Shelter" by Seether. ]
Ziva exhaled slowly as she splashed the cold water onto her face. She watched as the droplets rolled down her cheek, forming a small stream that rolled off her chin and into the sink. They eventually slowed to no more than the occasional drip. She leaned down and splashed her face again.
She wanted to wake up. Her body felt numb - numb enough that not even the cold water could seem to break through. This case was hard. It was hitting too close to home. It was ... how would her former therapist have put it? Triggering her?
She closed her eyes momentarily. Saleem's face flashed inside her mind and they snapped open again with a startled gasp.
Yes. Triggering. That had definitely been the word.
Resting her hands on the side of the sink, Ziva let it support her weight, taking deep breaths to try and pull herself together. When had she let herself become so broken? So vulnerable? She could feel her stomach tying in unpleasant knots. She'd always been taught to be the strong one, to be the woman that didn't break no matter what pain she was feeling. Those hours upon hours, day after day of torture in a hidden bunker well beneath the Earth's surface when she had trained for Mossad had trained her to not feel. Even when feeling may have been the only thing that would keep her sane.
She'd been lost in her thoughts, but not enough to not notice someone had entered the bathroom. It was late and she had assumed she was alone. When she heard the click of the door, she turned around swiftly, gun already poised in hand and ready to shoot.
"Whoa." Tony's hands were immediately in the air, his brows raised in concern. She tried to let her muscles relax as she lowered the gun. He let his hands fall and reached behind him to lock the door. Just in case. "Jumpy today, aren't we, my ninja?"
She snorted with a lack of amusement, turning away from him and trying to wipe her face with her hands. She couldn't tell what was water from the sink and what were tears she had barely noticed were falling anymore. She hoped that would mean Tony couldn't either.
"What do you want, Tony?"
He bit his lip before cautiously taking a step forward. She flinched, but didn't move to back up, and so he continued to approach until he was standing beside her. She could feel his eyes on her, filled with concern - or was it pity? She prayed for the former. She wanted no ones sympathy in this matter. To have her friends feel sorry for her was almost worse than the torture inside her mind could ever be.
"You seemed a little off today," he said with a shrug, trying to sound nonchalant about it. Ziva's lips twitched in the smallest of appreciative smiles. His ability to approach tough subjects as though he were discussing as something as simple as the weather was something she cherished in moments like these.
"I'm just tired, Tony."
He nodded, seeming willing to accept that. "Maybe you should go home. Get some sleep."
"There is paperwork to do."
Tony shook his head and reached out to cup her face with his hand. He forced her to look up at him, green eyes searching, though for what she wasn't sure. Ziva noted that for some reason, with him touching her like this, for the first time in days, she felt ... safe.
"I'll cover it. Go get some rest." He leaned in, placing a kiss against her forehead. She could feel it break through that numbness, leaving a small bit of warmth in its wake. "You need it more than I do."
She wanted to ask him to stay, to tell him to drive her home and hold her and sit with her until she fell asleep. She wanted to ask him for comfort. Gibbs would understand if the paperwork wasn't done by tomorrow morning. He had to understand. He always did. She wanted to ask Tony for his friendship - for his love, just for one night. But the thought of asking for comfort was too frightening. It went against what she had known all her life and in that moment, she needed the familiar, even when the familiar would only hurt later when she was alone with no one there to pull her out of her thoughts.
"Thank you, Tony," she said quietly. She reached out to squeeze his hand gently, before going to the door, unlocking it, and heading out of the restroom.