WHEN: post "Aliyah" AU
WORD COUNT: 1192
DISCLAIMER: Characters are not mine, I'm just playing with them.
There is not a part of her that doesn't hurt. The pain is dull, always there and too constant to surprise her with its intensity.
When she woke up after the first day, she was certain that she was dying. Her head hurt so much and she could hear blood rushing in her ears, and when she tried to stand, she couldn't.
She thought she was dying, but after there weeks, she knows she's already dead.
They keep asking her to tell them everything she knows about NCIS, but she doesn't. She may scream as they break her bones and burn her, but she doesn't tell them a single thing. It's not even her Mossad training that keeps her from breaking; it's the fear that she could get the friends she left behind killed.
It's the fear that Tony could die thinking she hated him.
It's the fear that Tony could die, period.
Sometimes she dreams that she's back in Washington. It's always spring and everything is green; green grass, green leaves on trees, green river, green, green, green. Green like Tony's eyes.
Everything always comes back to him.
She often thinks about Abby, because she knows that her death would affect her the most, the woman-child with dark clothes, pigtails and the purest soul of them all. Ziva worries because Abby is fragile like porcelain from the inside out and she doesn't want to be the one that would finally break her.
After a month and a half, she barely registers anything anymore. They hit her and they cut her, but she's so used to the pain that she barely notices.
She's safe inside her head where a single word repeats itself over and over again, and it's comforting, it's soothing, it's an escape.
That word is a name. It's a prayer, it's hope, it's life after death.
It's so simple.
At night, when they hurt her so much that it's impossible to even sleep, she imagines the day when Tony will come and rescue her. A part of her knows that he's not even looking for her, but she pretends it doesn't exist. She creates a future so intricate that she can almost see him there with her already, she can almost feel him on her fingertips, taste him on her lips, hear his voice in her ear.
When the morning comes and the door slams open violently, she's always surprised that it's not Tony entering.
But somehow, she doesn't lose hope.
It all comes to a point where her torturers don't know what to do to her anymore, even their twisted imagination running dry. Ziva can feel that they're finally starting to realize that she won't talk; it's loud in their vicious blows, in their cold stares.
It means that she won't be a living dead girl for much longer, and she's almost relieved.
Three days pass and nobody hits her. They give her food and water but they don't hit her and she can't understand what's happening. She knows it's the silence before the storm and she's never been more afraid.
Tony is calling her name. The dream is so vivid and beautiful and she's holding onto it with everything she's got.
''Ziva.'' Nothing ever felt better than hearing his voice again. ''Please.''
She frowns, puzzled. Her eyes open involuntarily and she gasps because Tony is chained to the wall across from her and there's blood everywhere.
She prays silently that this is just a nightmare inside of a nightmare.
She finds herself next to him but doesn't remember how she got there. Her hand shakes when she reaches out to touch him, but she pauses mid-air because everything looks raw and painful and she wants to wake up, now. Her heart is beating frantically and Tony looks at her like everything is okay.
''Ziva'', he breathes, the sound so gentle, so heartbreaking. ''I'm sorry.''
She just wants to wake up.
''Tell us everything about NCIS'', her captors demand again, and this time she's paying attention because they have a knife next to Tony's heart.
''Ziva, don't'', Tony says, but she avoids his eyes and starts speaking. She lived through months of torture but they found the only thing that could break her; a prospect of the world without Tony.
She wishes he never came looking for her.
When she's done, they tell her that they'll both be executed at dawn. She knew it would go that way, but she still feels tears streaming down her face as soon as the door closes.
Tony wraps his arms around her and she knows it hurts him as much as it hurts her, but it still feels good. She closes her eyes and thinks how glad she is that he's with her. It's selfish and she'd never admit it to him, not even now, in their final hours, but she can take losing him if she doesn't have to die alone.
''I am sorry'', she tells him, choking on her tears, and Tony just shushes her and holds her tighter.
She doesn't sleep and they don't talk, but she's never felt closer to anybody else in her life.
The morning comes with the slamming of the door, and she jerks in his arms, a shriek tearing from her throat without any conscious effort.
''They're here'', McGee says softly and she blinks, looking at Tony, wanting to make sure she's not just imagining things before allowing hope back in.
''What took you so long, Probie?'' Tony whispers and then Gibbs charges inside and life seems like a dream.
Tony doesn't want to let go of her and she doesn't want him to let go of her, so they have to carry them out together; it's impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins, and she could swear that there are tears in Gibbs' eyes.
They finally separate them at the field hospital, pumping them so full of drugs that everything is fluid like water, muffled like a gunshot through a silencer. She sees double and can't move too good, but still manages to protest when they pry his arms from around her.
Tony's calling her name again and she swims to the surface of wakefulness slowly, in painful stages.
She turns her weary head to the side and finds him in the bed next to hers.
'''You are too far away'', she says drowsily and stretches her arm across the empty space between them. He does the same but their fingers don't come even close to touching.
''Don't move'', Tony orders and she watches him sit up and put his feet on the floor. He stands up, wavers, stumbles and collapses on top of her.
Ziva yelps with pain and he apologizes, somehow settling under her covers without any further damage to either of them.
He takes her hand in his and attempts a smile.
She snuggles as close as her broken leg allows and his lips press against hers. She tastes tears and pulls away, telling him that everything is okay now.
It's not exactly true but it's not wrong either, because they survived.