by B. Cavis
by B. Cavis
He comes to her twenty weeks after she joins NCIS, dressed all in tan and with a soft look in his eyes. Calm. Serene.
There was a man last night who pumped a bullet into her. There were more men, last night, who carried her, bleeding and crying into this place, where cool hands and impersonal eyes took her in and made her better. Tried to fix her.
There is a bundle of flowers on her nightstand. Dazes, she thinks they're called, but knows that's not quite it. White and yellow and pale-- beautiful and fragile. No one has ever bought her flowers before except for the blue cornflowers that her lovely, lost older brother with the lovely, lost soul produced on every holiday and every birthday like clockwork. She is aware that this makes her want to cry.
He is oblivious, of course. Jovial and harmless and lying through his damn teeth. Director David smiles down at his daughter as she floats in a haze of morphine and pain, and calls her his little dove, and asks her when she's going to stop all this foolishness and come home to him. She watches him with detached eyes.
"These people are obviously taking good care of you, but I miss you terribly," he purrs. "It is time to return home. I'll have your things packed for you, dove, and we'll be back in Tel Aviv before the week is out."
Ziva sits very quietly, aware that her chest hurts for more reasons that the bullet that was dug out of it last night, and licks her lips to clear her voice. His eyes are her brother's, yet not. His voice is the one that sang sweet lullabies to her and told her that she was the most beautiful belle at the ball before she went out to dance with, seduce, and kill a Hamas operative in a smoky night club.
She still has the four inch heels she wore that night. They make her legs look amazing, and there's a smudge of blood on the bottom of them that for some reason won't come off no matter what she does.
"No," she tells him, and the cheer melts away from his features faster than she can say porcupine.
I'm staying here, she informs him, and his throat turns purple. You can leave now, she says, and his eyes bulge. For the first time in her life, Ziva is aware that her father wants to hit her, and she presses the call button with a quick, gentle motion of her finger.
"He can leave now," she informs Gibbs, who has been a tangible if invisible presence for the entire time she's been conscious. For the entire time she's been in the states, actually. David's fists clench and he starts yelling in fast, guttural Hebrew. He talks of traitors and liars and bastard sons, and she is impassive and calm as she can be without falling asleep.
Good drugs, she thinks as she bites down hard on her tongue. Very good drugs. They must be making her maudlin, though. She still wants to cry.
Gibbs removes him with a warning that only he can pull off, and she knows that her father could snap her mentor's neck if he wanted to, but somehow he makes the older man leave. Somehow the blue eyed one is the survivor.
Amazing. Characteristically amazing. She closes her eyes and listens to the sound of her father being escorted from he building, swearing things about disownment and God, and listens to the distant, calming sound of her heart rate on the beeping machine whose name Ari would have known.
Tony tells her that she's a lucky woman, and she teases him about how her boobs deflected most of the damage. He was the one that carried her and she thanks him in her own subtle way by mentioning that he must have been working out because he seems less flabby than usual.
McGee smiles and tells her she'll be better soon. She basks in the warm honest of him and smiles back without really feeling happy.
Gibbs tells her she did good. He does not mention forcefully removing her father, and he does not mention the fact that he has swept her apartment for bugs and removed three Mossad issue listening devices hidden from her various belongings. He retrieves and returns her knife to her, and she rests it underneath her hard pillow and feels minutely better.
He does not bring her coffee, no matter how she wheedles. He does not bring her work no matter how she pushes. She scowls at his retreating back and he leaves an agent outside her door at all times. She pushes the morphine button the second he leaves and feels the almost unbearable pain that she keeps herself in when others are around ease slightly.
Her chest throbs. Her head aches. She feels the knife against the back of her head and closes her eyes against the harsh brightness of the fluorescent lights above her head.
His eyes are the same. She might be dreaming.
"You're looking wonderful, little sister." His hands are delicate and strong, lanky where her father's are stubby. He reaches over and adjusts the pillow behind her head and smoothes her hair over her shoulders. His touch is cool and soft against her neck.
"You doubted I would come? I'm insulted, Ziva." His eyes smile at her, teeth flashing white and spontaneous in the dim light. The street outside sounds muted and soft somehow, like she's half-awake and floating on the edge of consciousness.
Her brother is here. The world can leave her for all she cares.
He glances around the room with a little smirk. "Lovely daisies. Agent DiNozzo knows you are allergic to roses. Thoughtful."
And she wants to speak to him, wants to know so much about why and how and when, but for some reason it doesn't seem all that important anymore. Not as desperate. She looks at him and feels her throat hurt, and his face grows soft and quiet for a long moment.
"I am sorry about that, little sister. Truly I am. It was not meant to hurt you, and I know it did." He leans down and takes her in his arms and settles her against his chest, and she listens to the warm, steady beat of his heart against her ear with her eyes half-closed. "I am sorry."
"I miss you."
"I know, and I you." She feels warm tears running down her cheeks, tickling salt water, and he wipes them away the same way he did when she was five and she fell in the Jewish Quarter and skinned her knees raw on the stones. His serious little boy face had made the pain more manageable. His dark, gentle eyes had given her hope that she would always have someone to pick her up when she stumbled. "You are doing well here. I am proud of you."
"I wish you were here."
"No," he laughs lightly. "You do not. And that is good. Things happen as they are meant to happen, Ziva. Man plans, God decrees. I am where I belong, as are you." His fingertips trace a steady line down her bare arms. "You are safe with these people. You belong with them now."
"I loved you," she whispers, and her throat clenches around the words. "I love you."
"And I love you still," he responds with all of the warmth that he always showed her. All of the affection in his voice is real, honest, true, and she'd bet her life and soul on it. Bet anything she had. He brushes a soft kiss over her forehead. "I never lied about that, Ziva. There was no way I could possibly lie about that."
He settles her back against the pillow and brushes her tears away with soft, gentle motions of his hands. "Do you remember the first time I took you to the Dead Sea?" he asks with a little smirk. "And you drank enough of it to get yourself sick?"
She is aware of the pain again. She swallows and nods and he drags nimble fingers over her ears, playing with the very tips of them and pinching her earlobes gently, the way he used to when they were little and he teased her.
"I held your hair back and called you a fish," he grins. "And when your stomach was empty you insisted on jumping back in. You got so sunburned your ears were pink for weeks."
"Are you at peace?"
"I'm sorry I shot you."
"There are more than enough things for both of us to be apologetic for. None of them are anything more than a waste of time." He waves a dismissive, delicate hand in the air and she watches the motions of him even as she feels her vision dimming. "Regrets are useless, little sister. Do not waste your life on them."
"I hate him for what he did to you," she whispers.
"I hated him for long enough. It takes too much, Ziva. Leave it to the hard and twisted ones like me." He grins. "We can hate with more grace than you could ever muster."
And as twisted as this all is, she finds herself smiling back. "Bastard," she mutters, and he laughs, loud and pure like he used to when they were alone and their ever present duty was so very far away. He is her brother again, her lovely, lost brother, and she basks in the warmth of his humor and his laugh.
"Sleep, little sister, and rest your mind. Talking to those who aren't there is a sign of mental insanity." And her eyes are closed, but she can feel him grinning at her. "I am never far from you, and you know it when you are not drugged with morphine. Stop bothering Agent Gibbs for work."
There is a bare brush of a kiss against her cheek, warm and alive and real and fuck anyone who tells her otherwise. "Caitlin sends her affections. She wants you to set Agent DiNozzo's computer background to gay porn, but I will leave that up to your discretion."
Gibbs is in her room when she wakes up, and she smiles wide and happy at him for some reason she doesn't really understand. He smiles back, less blindingly, and it occurs to him that she is wearing Ari Haswari's smile, but he can't bring himself to begrudge her it.
She doesn't ask for more paperwork. He doesn't offer to bring her any, and they talk about when she is going to be able to come back to work. He tells her that the doctors say she is making a speedy and complete recovery. She is grateful for the news, and reveals to him that she loves hospitals because they remind her of Hasmia Haswari, who used to braid her hair for her without malice in her touch.
He doesn't know quite how to respond to that, except to tell her that she's the first person he's ever met who actually likes hospitals, and inform her that McGee can manage a pretty good French braid. She nods and says she'll keep that in mind, and he leaves feeling strangely shaken.
There is a bundle of blue cornflowers on her nightstand next to the daisies that DiNozzo brought her yesterday. He didn't mention then and she didn't offer and insights as to where they came from.
"I feel like a shower," she tells DiNozzo. "Get me out of here so I can have one." And she sits back, waves an elegant hand, and expects her demands to be met.
And they are. She goes home to her apartment-- the one that is truly hers for the first time since she arrived, and stands under the hot water until she is sluiced clean and fresh and new. Her chest wound hurts, but the pain is manageable. She takes none of the pills left for her, and she answers none of the phone calls that her father leaves on her untraceable cell phone. Her sisters and brothers call and try and push her into talking to him, and she gives them all the same answer.
"I'm recovering from a gun shot wound. Perhaps the medication are making me hard of hearing. Speak louder next time."
Rivka muses aloud as to whether or not she's become a traitor as well, and Ziva tells her that she has something in the oven that she has to tend to, but she's grateful she called. When she hangs up the phone she puts on her loudest, angriest French rap music, and drinks a glass of white wine while watching the sun set over her new city.
They stop calling eventually. Or she stops picking up the phone. It really doesn't matter in the long run. She is where she belongs, or she would not be here. She is who she is supposed to be or she would be someone else.
She takes long baths and enjoys sweet wine. She braids her hair and lets herself heal to the point where any doctor would be happy before going back to work. When she looks at the scar she will have, she thinks of her brother's cool doctor's touch on her stitches and it doesn't hurt as much.
Her first act upon returning to work is to accept Abby's hug with a laugh. Her second is to hack into Agent DiNozzo's computer and set a rather explicit picture of three men and a horse as his computer background. She thinks about the drawing her predecessor did of the other man, how she saw him as he truly was when she worked him out in graphite and ink, and wonders if Caitlin Todd ever drew her brother.
The Universe sends Tony a virus that seems to affect no major systems, but renders him unable to change his background for a week. Ziva laughs in his face and tosses her loose curly hair over her shoulders whenever possible. Her knife doesn't leave her side. Her throat doesn't ache anymore.
She drinks strong coffee and holds daisies and blue cornflowers in the NCIS cup on her desk.
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