Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS…unfortunately
A/N: Just a short one-shot about Tony and Ziva. If you like it please review and if you want I'd love it if you check out my other two stories, Alphabet Stories and Beneath the Surface. Thanks so much! :D
Setting: A few months after Truth or Consequences after Tony, McGee, and Gibbs rescued Ziva from Somalia.
It had been a few months after she was rescued. Physically, she had fully healed (besides the scars that still remained streaked across her back), but emotionally, she was far from it. She talked to Gibbs a little in that interrogation room soon after she returned, but other than that she had been suppressing her memories and thoughts about it. Perhaps she thought that if she didn't think about it, that it wouldn't affect her as much. She thought showing her feelings, letting them out, talking about it would make it hurt even more. It could tarnish the image she had worked so hard to maintain. She had been raised to shut down emotionally, to not let anything stop her from completing her mission or following orders. Nothing had been more important besides completing the mission – at all costs – to Mossad. She was supposed to shut down, not let anyone in. Ziva David eventually got used to the concept, and had built up walls around herself to protect her and aid her in these situations. It had always worked out well for her – she always succeeded, she was regarded as one of, if not the best, assassin Mossad had.
Now though, in America, Israeli rules like those in Mossad didn't necessarily apply. Here, people reached out to her and encouraged her to talk and work through her emotions. This she was not used to. Maybe that's why she hasn't had a really serious relationship in the United States – she has difficulty opening up and letting them in. And more so, she was drowned in the idea that showing emotions made you weak. However, as it always does, eventually all of these bottled up emotions would explode out of her - especially after Somalia. She hasn't talked to anyone about what really happened to her at the hands of Saleem – and a part of her doesn't want to. There was a huge part of her that wanted to bury it and deny it, to pretend that it never happened. She felt like that's what she was supposed to do. There was also, though, a tiny part of her that needed to talk to someone about it. She needed someone who would be there for her and who wouldn't judge her. This want though was concealed by fear that whoever she told would think less of her, would see her in a different light. She didn't want that. She had already been hurt beyond belief by Saleem – she didn't want him to hurt her relationships too.
Those were the thoughts that haunted her that day while she went through her usual routine at work. She had arrived early, there was a body at Quantico, and they searched a suspect's house. There was nothing unusual about it – which helped her a little. She went through all these tasks robotically, systematically – she wasn't in the moment all day long. Eventually Gibbs sent everyone home – late, as usual. She had thought that no one noticed. She prided herself, in general, on being able to hide what she was thinking and feeling, not letting it her affect her – on the outside, anyway. What she wasn't used to was being around people who knew her - who really knew her – and who were easily able to see past her façade by merely looking into her eyes. Everyone on the team noticed something was wrong with their team member – and more importantly, with their friend. Everyone knew better than to bring it up at work though – she would just deny it. No one tried to bother her today; everyone gave her the space it seemed like she needed so badly. Until she got home, that is. Tony saw her all day, he saw how much pain she was in – and he wanted to help her. When she left the office, he glanced over at Gibbs, who nodded to him in understanding and assurance that he was doing the right thing when Tony watched Ziva go. He waited for a little while to give her a head start, then gathered his things together and walked to his car, starting up the engine and heading towards Ziva's place. This was long overdue.
She had been home for about half an hour before she heard it - a soft, yet persistent knock on her door. Before she had been resting comfortably on her sofa, flipping through channels, desperate to get the memories that played on loop in her head to stop. Usually she just buried them, but for some reason – perhaps they had finally caught up with her – she couldn't do it. Sighing, she got up and opened her door, not knowing who to expect. She certainly didn't expect to see Tony standing there with a case of beer and a pizza, smiling softly at her.
"Hey. Can I come in?" He asked her gently, and, shockingly, a little respectfully.
She nodded and moved aside to let him in. She wasn't up to arguing with him tonight. Hopefully they could just watch a movie and then he would leave. She couldn't deal with it. Not tonight. He walked silently to her living room, setting down the beer and pizza before beckoning her to come and sit by him. She complied and sat down, neither saying anything for a minute.
"Wanna watch a movie?" Tony asked her, trying to break the ice a little before he delved into what was making her so upset.
"That would be fine." She said as she held out two to Tony that were on her coffee table. He smiled at her before picking The Sound of Music. They both sat in silence for a while, watching the movie and eating before Tony turned and saw Ziva crying silently. He immediately paused the movie and wrapped his strong arms around her, enveloping her into a warm, loving, tight embrace. He was mildly surprised that she hadn't shoved him away. Instead she craved his touch. She buried her head into his shoulder and just sat and sobbed. She cried for reasons he would inevitably find out. She just let everything out – about her father, Tali, Ari, and – especially – about Somalia. She hardly ever cried in front of anybody, but she knew why she did now. She felt safe with Tony, with her new NCIS family. She finally realized that she didn't have to be 'okay' and the strong one all the time. She was allowed to get upset too, just like everyone else. She saw how happy the two lovers were and that just about did it for her. She just cried. She cried for the lack of real affection and love in her own life – at least before she came to NCIS -, over the choices she made. Tony didn't say a word; he just rubbed her back softly and let her do what she had to do. Eventually she quieted and broke away from Tony's shoulder, rubbing her eyes.
"I'm…" She was interrupted as Tony reached out and gently stroked her cheek.
"Zi, don't apologize. I want to help you. That's why I came over here tonight. I knew you needed someone, and I wanted to be that someone for you. Everyone needs someone. You don't have to be the strong Israeli assassin that we've all come to love all the time. You're allowed to break down too – we all need to. I want to help you, Zi. I'm here for you to talk to – we all are. We're you're family now, Ziva, and we love you. Let us, please. Let me in, Zi."
She looked up at him with tears in her eyes. She nodded slowly and cleared her head. Then she felt him take her hand and squeeze it gently. "Nothing you can ever say will ever make me think any less of you. Know that right now." She nodded again and took a deep breath. She needed this. She needed an out; this couldn't be held in any longer.
"There were a few things I was crying about. But what I've been really upset about all day was what happened in…Somalia." He was careful not to react, but inwardly he was fuming. He wanted Saleem to actually still be alive, only so he could kill him – this time more painfully.
"When I first got there, I was so close to taking him down. I was about to until I was…overpowered. I should have sensed something wasn't right. It had been way too easy for me to infiltrate his camp."
"Zi, don't blame yourself."
"I know, I know. Anyway, after that two of his men knocked me out, and the next thing I know was that I had awakened in a cold, dirty cell. You couldn't really call it a room. I stayed in there for a long time. Probably days. No food, no water, no windows, no company. During that time when I wasn't sleeping thoughts of you and McGee and the team kept me going. That was the only thing that kept me sane when he…" she trailed off and looked away. Tony gently stroked her arm.
"It's okay Zi, you're safe now. You can tell me. Tale you time. He can't hurt you ever again."
She shifted uncomfortably and met his loving gaze again. "When they had enough of isolating me, Saleem entered. He told me that one way or another he was going to get the information he wanted. I was a good hostage – I had information about the United States and the Israeli government and military. He first threatened me and asked me questions. I told him that I would never disclose what I knew. Remember, I had been an assassin. I was trained in how to get information out of people. I knew all of the tricks and I refused to succumb to them. I had also been trained in loyalty, and how to withstand giving up information. That part of training was…difficult." She was silent for a moment to gather her strength while Tony waited patiently. This was it. This was the hardest part. She had never said it aloud, not even to herself. She couldn't bear to look Tony in the eye.
"After a while of trying to get information out of me, they realized I was not going to cooperate. They left me alone for a few days I think, and then Saleem came back, and asked me again if I would tell him what I knew. I refused, and then he…he hit me. Each time he asked me, I never told him anything. He just beat me harder and harder, I lost count how many times. When he gave up there were bloody streaks all down my back and as soon as they left the room and I was alone I cried. I refused to when they were still there with me. They then again left me, and then later one of his men asked me to tell them what I knew. I still refused. That left only one thing for them to do." At this point she let out a tear that Tony quickly wiped away. He didn't say anything; he just sat and waited for her to continue.
This time she looked at Tony straight in the eyes. He saw the fear and pain in them; his hert broke for her. All he wanted to do was to make it okay for her.
"Zi, if you don't…" He trailed off as Ziva shook her head.
"No, Tony. I need to." She took a deep breath yet again. "After a while, I don't know how long, two men came in and gave me some supplies, telling me to clean myself up. I knew already what was going to happen to me before they even came in. It was their last resort and I knew it. I did as I was told. I cleaned myself, and I tried to make myself believe that this was just like a Mossad mission where I had to sleep with someone to get information. That almost worked too." She paused for a minute, trying to be strong with tears in her eyes. Tony squeezed her hand reassuringly. "Saleem came into the room soon after the men left. He asked me one final time. I refused. I tried to fight him off, of course, but I had not had much to eat, and I was weak from him beating me. Then he…he raped me." She started crying now, although it was less than before. Tony just held her just as he did before until she finally broke away, drying her eyes with the back of her hand. "That was not the only time either. When that still did not work he had others do it too…and they did not always take turns."
Tony enveloped her in a hug that rivaled those of Abby's. She buried herself into his shoulder and started crying again, harder this time. As she did Tony's heart broke even more than it did before. It killed him that he didn't get to her sooner, and that he even let her leave to begin with. Although he knew in his head that there was nothing he could've done, his heart didn't listen. All he wanted to do was make it okay for her again, to erase the horrific memories that must haunt her and to slowly and painfully every single man who laid a hand on her. Finally she leaned back again. He brushed her hair away from her face and kissed her forehead.
"Ziva…I'm so sorry…for everything. You have no idea what I want to do to each man who ever laid a hand on you. Really, I couldn't be prouder of you, dealing with this injustice all by yourself for this long. And don't think for a second that I think any less of you for this. If anything, I think more of you. You're safe now." With that she nodded and hugged him again, this time without sobbing. She kissed his cheek.
"Thank you Tony." He smiled weakly back and stroked her hair.
"No, thank you for letting me in."