She clutched the delicate gold necklace at her throat.
His eyes were glued to her knuckles. He didn't miss how white they were—it wasn't due to a tight grip, either; the Star of David pendant was too fragile to be maltreated. She was just pale; pale with worry, with fear, and with heartache.
He clasped his hands under his chin, gritting his teeth tightly. His eyes refused to leave her hand; he focused alternatively on the white-gold band of her engagement ring and on the sparkle of the star. He dug his teeth into his knuckles, waiting.
The silence was unbearable, the beige plastic chairs were unbearable, and the sterile, floral wallpapered walls surrounding them were unbearable. He wanted to say something. He had the irrational, completely inappropriate urge to crack a joke—but what the hell was there to joke about?
It seemed unbelievably cruel that a doctor could stick a couple in a room, tell them to make a decision, and go about his day.
He got up and shoved the chair back aggressively, rubbing the back of his head. He gripped his hair and paced away, and then whirled around, marching back to the chair and taking the back of it in his hands—his knuckles turned white, to match hers.
Her lips moved almost imperceptibly; he wondered if she was praying.
"What do you want to do, Ziva?" he asked tensely, his voice heavy.
Her lashes fluttered. Her fingers moved on her pendant.
She said nothing. He felt frustrated, out of control, impatient. He scraped the chair on the floor; she flinched.
"We have to make a decision," he said.
She moved. She let her necklace fall to her chest and pushed her thick, curly hair behind her ears. She ran her palms along her thighs, smoothing out the wrinkled material of her jeans.
"I do not think we have much of a choice at all," she said.
He couldn't figure out what she sounded like; he couldn't get any indication of what she was feeling from her voice. She'd been so maddeningly calm, so unspeakably strong, for the past three weeks that he was desperate to know how she was doing it. She hadn't for a moment given away to their boys that there was anything wrong.
She laced her fingers together, and looked narrowly at her palms.
He felt so guilty. He felt so guilty.
He was the one who wanted another. She was content with two.
She licked her lips.
"I do not want to hurt you, Tony," she said carefully.
He leaned on the chair heavily, and then let go of it as if he'd been burned—it was just plastic; it couldn't take all of his misplaced anger and pain. He walked around it and went down on one knee in front of her, grabbing her hands.
"It's up to you, Ziva," he said earnestly, his words unsteady.
For the first time, he saw a flicker of raw emotion in her dark eyes—and it was anger; annoyance.
"No," she said sharply. "It is up to us," she told him firmly. "You are my husband—"
"It's your life, Ziva!"
"It is your baby," she growled back.
He winced, hurt, and she curled her fingers around his, the pads of her fingertips stroking soothingly over his knuckles.
"I mean," she clarified, lowering her voice. "I mean that I do not want you to have no say. I do not want you to resent me."
He swallowed hard and looked down at their hands. He pushed his thumb over her diamond, nudging the gem back and forth on her ring finger. His eyes fell to her abdomen and he leaned forward, his forehead resting on their entwined hands.
"Ziva," he mumbled, so quietly she almost didn't hear. She tilted her head, turned her ear closer.
He stood abruptly and pulled the chair up close to her, sitting on the edge. He leaned forward on his knees, waiting until she met his eyes. He reached out and touched the pendent resting on her chest.
He shook his head.
"It isn't your fault," he told her. "I can't resent you."
He let his fingers run down her chest, until his hand was resting on the curve of her lower abdomen under her shirt. He pressed with his fingertips gently; he felt nothing, but he knew there was life there. She very gingerly pushed his hand away, and looked into his eyes again.
"There is nothing we can do," she said quietly. She lifted her shoulders. "Even—a second opinion, this specialist, he says there is nothing left. I have two boys at home," she said, her lashes quivering as she resisted blinking. "I cannot…martyr myself for a lost cause. My sons need their mother, Tony."
He nodded. He reached up and pushed his hand through her hair, cradling the back of her neck in his palm.
"I need their mother," he said hoarsely; selfishly.
Her lips parted. She dipped her head in a solemn nod, and lifted her shoulders.
"You see?" she asked. "It is not a choice. It was never a choice."
He started to pull her closer, but she resisted.
"Do you think it is killing, Tony?" she asked starkly, her eyes fastened on his.
"I," he began hoarsely. "No—I don't—I've killed people. This isn't—killing."
She compressed her lips tightly, for just a moment.
"I think it is killing," she said.
She reached for the pendent at her throat again.
She was more religious than he was.
He leaned forward, hesitant to try to pull her close again. She moved her lips, and he heard soft whispers of Hebrew. She bowed forward and laid her head in his lap, her shoulders and breasts falling heavily on his knees and his thighs. He stroked her hair silently, listening to her prayer. His fingers moved over her cheeks, seeking to wipe tears away, but her face was dry as the desert.
His hands moved over her protectively, but he felt useless.
She sat up straight, startlingly straight, and she stood.
"I will inform the doctor."
He listened to her walk to the door and open it, speaking neutrally to the nurse waiting outside, and he bent forward heavily and covered his face with his hands.