"Stand on a cliff and look down there. Don't be scared. You are alive. You are alive." - R.E.M, Electrolite
The bullpen is too bright, and for the first time she realizes how hideous that orange paint really is. The clapping is so loud and she wishes everyone would just stop because her mind is spinning and Tony is staring at her and she cannot find any words to say.
"Ziver, you need to see Ducky." Gibbs whispers, and she begins to shake her head, but suddenly she is too tired to protest.
He talks about third degree burns and healing fractures and bruises and concussions and an infection, but she barely hears him over the echoes in her head.
"Couldn't live without you, I guess." she hears him say over and over and she hears "perhaps I would!" and Saleem is there above her face and Michael is dead and so are Ari and Tali and her mother and the men are on top-
"Ziva! Look at me!" she hears Ducky say but it is just a dream because she can feel the heat and the sand and the men-
Suddenly she is vomiting all over the floor and she braces herself for the next blow, but all she feels are strong, safe arms around her and soothing words in her ear.
"Ziver." Gibbs says when she looks at him and cries in earnest for the first time since her rescue- since Tali's funeral, actually. "You're ok." He soothes, smoothing a hand over her matted hair. "You're ok."
She sobs and sobs because Eli betrayed her and Tony still loves her and Michael was a liar but he is also dead and maybe she loved him and because she is so broken and tired and hates how dirty she feels inside, and maybe she wishes she had died because then she could see Tali and her mother and Ari and not be suffering anymore.
She begins to scream again because she can't decide how she feels and she is so scared and small. Gibbs tries to take her in his arms but he has turned into Saleem so she curls into a ball and begs him not to hurt her. Ducky says something about a sedative in his bag and soon their faces are blurry and she is almost asleep, floating above the people she loves in a boneless dreamland.
When she wakes again she is in does not know where she is until she sees Tony in the chair in the corner. It all comes rushing back and her face reddens but it's hard to focus on anything, let alone speak. He sits down on the edge of the bed and strokes her hair like she is a baby and smiles wearily.
"How do you feel?" He asks kindly.
"Ok." She squeaks after a long minute. "I am sorry, Tony-"
He shakes his head. "Don't. Please don't apologize. You're safe now, that's all that matters. We can talk about that later."
She nods and closes her eyes briefly.
He thinks she has fallen back to sleep when she sits up, small among the pillows and blankets.
"Thank you- for finding me." she says, eyes filled with unshed tears.
"I do not know anyone else who would have risked their life and career that way for me."
"No one else I'd do it for." he concedes, taking her hand in his.