Log in


Day #1941, T, gen, by Hagar

« previous entry | next entry »
Oct. 21st, 2011 | 04:06 pm
posted by: hagar_972 in zivadavid

Title: Day #1941
Pairing: gen
Rating: teen
Content Advisory: mentions of captivity, shit that happens in captivity, and dealing with said shit during and after
Summary: 25 June 2006 - 18 October 2011. 1941 days.
Author's Notes: my love to Sailor Sol, who held my hand through this, beta'ed and suggested the summary.

In memoriam First Sergeant (res.) Ehud Goldwasser (31), Staff Sergeant (res.) Eldad Regev (25), Master Sergeant (res.) Wasim Salach Nazel (27), First Sergeant (res.) Shani Turjeman (24), First Sergeant (res.) Eyal Banin (22), Lieutenant Hanan Barak (20), Staff Sergeant Pavel Slutzker (20).

Day #1940, 17:30 EDT

Forty minutes after Ziva had left the office, McGee said: “That’s it.”

“What’s it?” Tony asked.

“The last appeal.”

Tony stopped his typing and turned around to face McGee. “And?” he asked. His voice was more anxious than he was comfortable with, but hell; Gibbs was atypically still, too. “What did they say?”

“They rejected it,” McGee said.

Like everyone said the High Court would, Tony thought, but didn’t say it out loud. ‘Should’ is a kind of fish, Ziva had kept saying the past week, a bizarre Israeli idiom Tony did not understand but knew the meaning of anyhow: just because something was supposed to happen didn’t mean that it really would. Just because everyone kept saying that Israel’s High Court of Justice would reject the appeals didn’t mean that they really would.

“So that’s it, then,” McGee continued.

“Not yet,” Tony said. He’d learned his lesson about the Middle East. “Not just yet.”

Day #1940, 23:40 EDT

Ziva set up the television on picture-in-picture. Channel 10 was the main and so technically had audio, but she muted it in favor of Galatz, whose radio feed she had blasting from her laptop, set high enough that she could hear it from anywhere in the apartment.

Not that she was likely to leave her living room.

No sooner had she thought that, though, then she heard the knock on her door, loud enough to be heard. Ziva muttered a few choice words and went over to see who was knocking on her door this late on a Monday night.

She might as well have known.

Tony raised the bottle as she opened her door to him: Champagne. “I really hope we’ll get to open it,” he said.

She stepped aside, letting him in.

“So, what did I miss?” he asked as he went to the kitchen to store the bottle.

“They’re transferring the prisoners to the border crossings,” she said. She followed him halfway, keeping an eye on the plasma. Intellectually, she knew that there’d be nothing there for her to see - nothing was scheduled to happen, and Galatz were likely to report first, anyway - but it was too old and too deeply ingrained a habit. “The Prison Service expects this phase to be over by oh-seven-hundred hours. One AM, Eastern.”

“All right,” he said, turning around.

“Tony, you did not take leave tomorrow.”

“That’s right,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t wait up with you.”

“Gibbs will be displeased when you show up for work having not slept all night.”

“Yeah, Gibbs’ll forgive me this time, I think.” He looked around her kitchen. “Do you have popcorn?”

“This is not one of your movies,” she said, sharply.

He looked at her. “Yeah,” he said. His voice, like that look she couldn’t decipher, made her skin crawl. “I know.”

He didn’t say it but she knew, somehow: that was why the only thing he brought was a bottle of - knowing Tony - probably ridiculously expensive Champagne.

She hesitated, and then set her shoulders and set into the kitchen. “I’ll make tea.”

Day #1941, 01:40 EDT

Ziva had switched the big picture on the plasma to the Egyptian channel at about 01:15 following an update in one of the feeds she was tracking online. It made sense, Tony supposed, as the first transfer would be from Gaza to Egypt.

Ziva only moved to switch tabs in the browser and refresh the feeds. Tony eyed her sideways, but did not dare to say a word. Not now. Not like this. Not when her response to him sinking lower into the couch was to tense away.

Twenty minutes later, she said abruptly: “The buses are moving.”

“What does it mean?”

“It means the IDF has reason to advance the exchange,” she said, looking at the plasma instead of at him, “even though there is no public confirmation yet.”

The two of them had yet, Tony was acutely aware, to explicitly state confirmation of what they were waiting on.

He took his feet off the coffee table and stood up, picking up their mugs in the process. “I’ll make more tea.”

Day #1941, 03:30 EDT

It continued like that for the next two hours. Something would happen - another batch of buses got going, one of the key players got on their heli ride to Tel Nof Airbase - but there was no official confirmation. Not from the IDF, that is; Hamas made theirs at 02:34 Eastern, telling an Haaretz reporter that they had handed off Gilad Shalit.

None of the other Israeli news outlets seemed to take Hamas at their word. Neither did Ziva.

She froze without hitting refresh, so it had to be something on the radio. A second later she was bent over the laptop, cycling through the sites and refreshing almost faster than the pages could load.

Tony leaned forward, putting his elbows on his knees. “What happened?”

“Two female prisoners are refusing to enter Gaza,” she said, attention still on the computer.

“Can’t blame them,” he said before he could think better of it.

She snapped her head up, glaring. “One of them is Amna Muna,” she bit out. “She murdered a sixteen-year-old boy.” She turned her gaze back down, her hands clenched into fists over the keyboard. “She abused other women in prison, too. She’d do this just to spite.”

One thousand and twenty-seven Palestinians, out of four or six thousand in Israeli prisons, were supposed to be released that day. Supposed. All it took was two - no, all it took was a single prisoner refusing to go where sent, to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip or to exile in some Arab country, and the whole deal would fall apart.

In June 2006, Hamas crossed the Gaza fence into Israel and launched an attack on an IDF tank, killing two, injuring one and kidnapping a fourth. In the five years and four months since, it turned out that Israel could pinpoint and successfully assassinate a target half the world away, inserting and extracting a team two dozen strong, but it could not locate a person not twenty miles from its own border, in a tiny, besieged piece of land it supposedly had under its thumb.

Five years and four months was twenty times three months. Tony knew what three months could do. Ziva knew better, having experienced that herself.

One thousand and twenty seven men and women, of whom nearly 300 were convicted of murder, many of them of multiple murders and acts of terror. Gilad is still alive, the campaign called out, and eventually Israel’s government agreed to pay this price, if Hamas would give up on some of the worst killers. Today Gilad Shalit should be coming home.

Should, except for one killer who wouldn’t take what freedom was bought for her.

“Are you particularly attached to these mugs?” Tony asked.

It was the right thing to say, oddly, because Ziva unclenched her fists and put away the laptop, resting her elbows on her knees and burying her face in her hands. “Yes,” she said, and he knew it was a lie. “But there’s a punching bag in the other room.”

Day #1941, 04:10 EDT

Egypt brokered the deal, and Egypt was not about to lose face by having it fall apart over one idiot woman. It took half an hour for them to declare that they’d take her and talk her into it, and once that was done with and the prisoner transfer resumed, Ziva went to the kitchen and put on another pot of tea.

Tony must have heard her pouring, because he wandered in with his mug just in time. She poured him a cup, too, and then reached for the brandy and poured approximately two shots into hers. Tony held out his mug, too, and after a moment’s hesitation - he’d be going to work in a few hours, and she knew what Tony was like when he was stressed - poured him just under a shot.

He definitely noticed what she’d done, but he did not say a word. Good; she wasn’t up to dealing with that.

The doorbell cut through the air.

Ziva put her mug down with a too-loud clunk and strode to the door. She looked through the peephole, sighed, braced herself and opened the door in a single sweep.

Abby, predictably, practically fell on her shoulders.

“I’m sorry for coming over without calling first, but I was trying to listen to Galatz online, and I couldn’t keep up with the Hebrew, and there’s been a lag in what the American stations are showing, and I thought, well, maybe I could go over to Ziva’s, she would be able to tell me what was going on. But then I figured I should probably bring something, so I was making cookies when they started talking about that horrible woman refusing to enter Gaza, and there was still nothing on the radio while I was driving over here, so I’m really sorry for just showing up like this and please tell me that they figured it out.”

Keeping track with Abby was even harder than usual, what between Abby’s rapid-fire delivery and it being four AM.

Abby,” she began, but her thoughts failed to make it to words. She couldn’t think, not with another person draped all over her like that in the middle of all this, and certainly not with that person being Abby and with the memory of the last - the only other - time Abby had held her like that crawling all over Ziva’s skin. Eventually, she managed, “We’re in the doorway.”

“Oh, right, of course.”

But Abby didn’t move, and Ziva was still frozen.

“Here, I’ll take these,” Tony said. Ziva could feel him there as he came up behind her and took the box of cookies from Abby’s hand. “Hi, Abbs.”


Abby let go of Ziva and clung to Tony instead. Between that and Tony standing a good three or four feet into the apartment, that meant Ziva could finally put a locked and bolted door between them and the world again.

She left Tony and Abby there and went to pick up her tea from the counter, glancing at the TV as she did so.

No news in the past three minutes.

Day #1941, 05:02 EDT

They didn’t even finish the pot of tea before things went off-script, again. This time, it was the Egyptians who did it. Or Hamas, Tony wasn’t sure whose camera that was - but that was definitely an Egyptian channel that released the first visual of Gilad Shalit in years.

It had to be the Rafah Crossing from Gaza to Egypt, the news anchors all agreed, but no one seemed to actually know. Tony hadn’t listened, not to them and not to Abby, babbling from his right. His attention was on the pale boy on the screen, skinny and brittle, jerked and shuffled around by full-bodied, dangerous-looking men, and on Ziva’s far too careful breathing on his left.

He hadn’t dared look at her - she’d bolt, he knew she’d bolt, and he knew how much she wanted to stay there and watch - but he did place his hand next to her. She hadn’t flinched. He’d only barely contained the impulse to pump his fist in the air at that, only to be slammed a split-second later with the the urge to curl in on himself and disappear, shamed by the intensity of his elation at Ziva’s non-rejection.

That scrawny kid was in the Sinai, somewhere, on his way back to the highly inappropriately named Peace Vineyard sector from which he’d been grabbed 1,941 days before. There was an Israeli team, there, waiting to receive him even before the border crossing, but there was no word yet.

Ziva’s liquor rack was just a few yards away, in the kitchen. She had no whiskey of any kind, but there were gin and rum, other than the brandy, and Tony knew there’d be vodka in the freezer. It itched at him, aching like a sprain that needed to be iced, but he knew the look Abby would give him if he left the couch and came back with a bottle and a low-ball.

He’d been grateful when Ziva limited his brandy, damn it.

Ziva leaned forward rather suddenly, palming for the remote with one hand and muting the laptop and putting it away with the other. They had one of the Israeli channels on, now; Tony wasn’t sure which, but the other channels seemed to show the exact same feed, anyway. This had to be Tel Nof Airbase, and that had to be the IDF spokesperson walking up to the podium.

Abby was sitting very straight. Ziva was curled back into the couch. Tony’s palms were sweating.

On screen, the Spokesperson said: “Gilad Shalit shav habayta.”

Ziva didn’t move, didn’t shift or twitch at all. Abby’s hands flew to her mouth and she made some sort of a noise, and the next second she was clinging to Tony’s neck.

The spokesperson was still talking.

“Please tell me it means what I think it does,” Tony said hoarsely.

Abby sniffed loudly, which might have been a precursor to speaking between the sobbing, but Ziva got in first. If she moved, the couch didn’t telegraph it.

“Gilad Shalit has returned home.”

They have him, Tony thought as his arms finally went up to wrap Abby. It’s over.

But it wasn’t, not yet. Shalit - Gilad - was in Israeli territory. He was fucking finally safe, after all these years, home in that sense of the word. He still had a battery of physicians and a heli ride before he could see his parents, and then more physicians and a longer heli ride before he would really be home, all the way on the Northern end of Israel.

The worst of it was over, though. Except in dreams. Except in memory.

Abby was weeping into his shoulder and his own eyes were screwed shut against her hair, but on his other side Ziva was still frozen.

She still hadn’t moved when Abby pulled back or he let her go - he wasn’t sure - and she sniffed, wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand, pulled a handkerchief and wiped her nose thoroughly before picking up the plate of cookies from the table, taking one for herself and offering the rest to Tony - who palmed a few - and then to Ziva.

Ziva didn’t move.

Abby put the plate on the table, got up, picked a few cookies and then went around Tony, grabbed Ziva’s hand and placed the cookies in it.

Ziva didn’t even look at her.

“Eat,” Abby said firmly. “He’s safe, you need the sugar, and if you argue I’ll scream. Or cry. Or slap you or hug you or...”

Abby picked up speed with each word, edging into worry. Tony’s heart was in his throat.

Still staring into thin air, Ziva blinked once and - moving absently, mechanically - picked one of the cookies with her other hand and put it in her mouth, chewing.

Tony wasn’t shivering, quite, but it was going to be a near thing if Ziva did not snap out of this soon.

Abby picked up the remote on her way back, turning down the volume on the TV. Ziva responded by blinking again and then - moving more normally - picked up the laptop and turned on the volume on the radio again.

They stayed like that for a few minutes, sitting in shocked silence and demolishing Abby’s lavender cookies. Then something happened in one of the smaller windows on the plasma, the Egyptian channel.

“Were they supposed to do that?” he asked as Ziva swore, muting the laptop and reaching for the remote again.

“No,” she said, toggling the Egyptian channel to the main view and upping the volume.

That was a TV studio, and that was an interviewer lady in the chair on the right, and that was Gilad Shalit in the chair on the left.

The reporter asked her question in heavily-if-reasonably accented English, but that didn’t mean Tony could follow. An interpreter translated each question to Arabic, overriding her voice; Shalit answered in Hebrew, and his voice was barely heard even without the damn translator. Ziva turned the volume so high that it would be a wonder if none of her neighbours would come banging on her door.

The quality of the footage was a hell of a lot better than the Rafah one, but that did not make Shalit any less pale, gaunt or edgy. He twisted in his seat, firmly avoiding eye contact, and his breath came in hard and ragged. The kid was halfway to a panic attack, if not already there and dealing with it with the kind of acceptance captivity teaches.

Tony was too absorbed in watching, in trying to follow, trying to keep his own suddenly-freezing lungs working, and he jumped several inches in the air at the sound of crashing china.

Ziva had swept the mugs to the floor. She was on her feet - punching the wall - and then she’d disappeared behind the couch and down the hall, bathroom door slammed behind her.

Day #1941, 05:15 EDT

Her skin was cool to her own fingers, cool like the formica and just as lifeless to the touch. She stood in the middle of the room, chin turned firmly down, still like the sandstone bluffs of her childhood and just as misleading.

Her hands were clutching her arms. It should hurt, she knew - assessed the pressure and evaluated the chances that it would bruise - but she did not feel it. Not as pain. She’d been taught to do that, instructed in divorcing her self from her body. Further instructed: she’d learned the first of it on her own, in the wake of Tali’s death, of their mother’s. The brain processed both kinds of pain the same way.

One could die from pain alone. Pain bled you out, eating away mind and will like wind and water eating away at the sandstone. It could be wielded precisely to carve sculptures out of rock, tools out of persons. It was unstoppable, like the elements or time itself. Time couldn’t be stopped but the experience of it could be. Pain and time, they were both stopped the same way.

Pain could kill you, and pain could transform you, and cutting off the pain always did kill you. Pain was an alarm, klaxons and flashing lights, designed to wrench a person out of whatever she wanted, whatever she had planned, because to ignore pain was to be injured and die. Not feeling the pain killed you, whether little by little over time or in one swift blow.

Ziva was good at cutting herself off. Malachi knew that when she’d turned him away in Somalia. He also knew that she was already dying. He, like her, like all of Kidon, knew both edges of this sword. This was why Saleem couldn’t get anything out of her, not with starvation or heat or cold or pain or drugs.

You were taught to wield pain like a knife, and you were taught to divorce yourself from it. You were also taught to stitch your self again, but there was only so far one could go before that was no longer possible. She’s crossed that line in Somalia, her mind overwhelmed with drugs and with the relief they brought her tortured body, and she herself too dead to respond, let alone to care. There were big gaping holes in her, now, like caves hidden in the rock, and every once in a while a wall would crumble and she’d be lost in the nothingness where Ziva David had once been, grasping at imaginary pebbles and at her own dead arms with equally dead fingers.

The twenty-year-old grabbed from the tank where his commander and his buddy were killed had not known those things. He had not been prepared for it. He, instead, tried to live. And a family and a people who had known he was missing had also had enough of ‘missing’ being another word for ‘dead’.

This team had not known that there was a body breathing still behind the walls of sand. They came for revenge. Tony did, to be precise. She’d needed to be told nothing more than what he’d told her, too alive to lie: couldn’t live without you, I guess.

She’d laughed at that, days after, big guffaws of rolling laughter: so we will be dead together then, yes?

Until the one time Tony’s voice was in her ears, again, his face before her eyes, again, except that time she perceived what she saw, listened to what she’d heard - like the girl in the story, so long ago - and her tears were hot on her face and her arms stung where she had scratched them bloody, and that was real and she was alive, there in Tony’s gaze.

Her fingers were numb. Her arms would bruise. Her back ached with tension. She felt so cold. Her eyes burnt, as she straightened her neck. Her face, her self in the mirror seemed unreal; Ziva stared past it into the memories until they lurched forward with blinding pain that had her double over with a cry.

That was a while. Then a while more until she had strength enough to straighten her back, arms crossed loosely across her abdomen. The counter and the cupboards, at least, seemed blissfully solid, undeniably real. The ragged, slow rhythm of her breath was real, too, under her touch and in her throat. And staring back at her, her reflection was as real as a reflection could be.

She stumbled to the sink, eventually, elbows falling to the formica. She opened the tap with trembling hands and washed them - left and right and left again - and splashed palms-full of water on her face, closing her eyes against the blessing of it. Her hands did not shake nearly as badly as she closed the tap and reached for the towel, drying herself off, and she did not move as slowly and hesitantly as she walked to the door and opened it.

Tony was sitting on the floor, directly across from the door. He looked up at the sound of the door, straight at her. It stopped her in place, like stepping into a stream when coming in from the desert. It was the same promise, too: where it touched, she was real.

She took the last step forward, coming to stand above him, and offered him her hand to help him up. He took it, clinging with both his hands as she pulled him to his feet. She would have wrapped his hands with both of hers but he opened his mouth and she put a finger against his lips instead, and then reached with both her arms to hold him, hold herself to him, hold both of them together.

He held on to her, too.

Day #1941, 06:00 EDT

Abby had swept up the broken china and then mopped away the tea and the smaller shards. It took close to half an hour before the living room was properly clean again. Ziva was still in the bathroom. Tony was still standing at the edge of that hallway like the door of an OR.

She would have gone to talk to him, but then the cry shook both of them. Ziva. Abby ran to the hallway just as Tony ran to the bathroom door, but both of them stopped. There had been no sound of anything crashing or breaking and Ziva wouldn’t hurt herself, she wouldn’t, or if she would it’d be a single shot or slice and too late for Abby or Tony to do anything and then there would not have been that cry.

Tony had to be thinking along the same lines as her because he stood by the bathroom door, his forehead leaning against the wood, one palm resting on the frame and another on the door knob. He was breathing hard, so hard, shoulders hitched high and tense and paler than the soft yellow of Ziva’s walls. Abby longed to do something, anything, but whenever she started moving she was too afraid that if she touched him he’d snap.

She dug her nails into her palms and forced herself to turn around. The tears burnt pathes down her cheeks. She made herself go back to the couch, where she refreshed Haaretz’s English live-blog - no news - and then scanned the Hebrew homepage for both it and Ynet, just in case. The first - newest - photo in the stream made her stop breathing.

She left the laptop on the coffee table and rummaged through Ziva’s living room shelves. The cable had to be there. Please, Abby thought as she tore through it, Ziva had to have the connector cable, right?

She’d only just found the cable when the bathroom door creaked open. Abby spared a glance for Tony and Ziva embracing in the hallway, clinging to each other as if for dear life, and got back to what she was doing. Ziva would want to see this. Ziva needed to see this.

Abby had been standing, waiting and wringing her fingers anxiously for whole minutes when Ziva and Tony finally turned - still holding on to each other - and the plasma was indeed the first thing that Ziva looked for and her eyes went very, very large when she saw the photo Abby had splashed there.

The light was clearly fluorescent, but it was the pink-yellow combo designed to imitate daylight, warm and almost soft. The shirt was still the one he’d been presented in at Rafah, but the light was good and the focus was sharp and crisp and he finally had his glasses, but all these small signs of care were not the reason that Abby wanted so badly for Ziva to see this, knew that this was what Ziva had been waiting for. In this photo Gilad was on the phone, a soft, warm, genuine smile gifting something like health to his face, and Abby knew that Ziva would know that that was his mother on the other end of the phone line.

Ziva’s eyes welled with tears, and it was only a split-second before she’d buried her face in Tony’s shoulder, shaking with silent sobs.

Day #1941, 06:20 EDT

Abby had literally wrapped them in blankets, which Tony seemed to find amusing, and then disappeared to the kitchen. Ziva didn’t mind that, the blankets or that Abby had left the laptop connected to the plasma and out of immediate reach. Galatz was still on. They’re know when the heli would leave Kerem Shalom and when it would reach Tel Nof, and there’s be nothing to see until that would finally happen and Gilad would finally be brought to his family.

Abby had made hot chocolate, it turned out. She only half-filled their mugs and took careful care to ensure that Ziva and Tony both had their hands firmly wrapped around them, going so far as to put her hands over each of theirs when she handed them the mugs. Ziva would have snapped at her, but the mug was heavy, Abby’s eyes were very large and very red, and the chocolate was strong and sweet and tasted also of cinnamon.

“Thanks, Abbs,” Tony said.

“There’s more in the kitchen,” she said, sitting on the edge of the coffee table. “But we ran out of cookies, I’m sorry, I...”

“Don’t,” Ziva said. She sounded awful, but well. It was too late to worry about that. “Please, Abby, just don’t.”

Abby swallowed, and then came over and curled up on the couch on Ziva’s right.

It wasn’t long, after that, before it was announced that the heli left Kerem Shalom.

“How long?” Tony asked.

Ziva hesitated. “It’s not a very long flight,” she said. “But it’s a Yas’ur, a,” she tripped up, trying to remember the model. One or the other Sikorsky, but that was all she could remember. “It’s heavy and slow,” she said instead. “Could be twenty minutes, could be half an hour.”

“Should I go find the flutes?” Abby asked. “You do have flutes, right?”

“No,” Ziva said. She didn’t have Champagne flutes, but that wasn’t what her negative was for. “Not until he really is home.”

Day #1941, 07:20 EDT

Ziva’s estimate turned out to be dead-on, because twenty-five minutes later the Galatz reporter at Tel Nof - Tony could pick out their voices by then - very nearly broke down in tears, and Tony didn’t need to ask what the commotion was for. That was when they put the TV back on.

It was just more talking heads, so far.

Abby seemed determined to feed them and not let them off the couch, neither of which Tony was about to object to any time soon. She and he would usually already be in, at this time, but he’d meant what he’d told Ziva the night before: Gibbs was going to be okay with them being late and a little out of it, this one time. Hell, the entire team would’ve taken this day off together, if there was any chance of it being approved.

So he finished all of his hot chocolate, dutifully ate the peanut butter sandwich and made weak jokes at Ziva when she asked that Abby put on some pasta. She made equally weak jabs at him in return, so he supposed they were doing all right.

He just put down his plate, which was why he missed it when Ziva refreshed one of the photo streams again.

“Tony,” she said.

He turned around immediately, but the stream already continued to the next photo. Rather than wait for it to recycle, Ziva just hit refresh again, capturing the image link and dropping it in a new tab, displaying the image there.

Five people, in this photo, but only two of them mattered; no faces showing, but that didn’t matter either. Two cameramen, obscured by their cameras; a man in a black suit, obscured by a frail, uniformed man; and Noam Shalit embracing his son, both their faces turned away from the camera.

Tony searched for Ziva’s hand. She met him halfway, squeezing back.

Another step closer to home.

Day #1941, 09:55 EDT

It was quiet in the bullpen that day. Well, at least in Team Gibbs’ aisle, it was; it was business as usual for everyone else. Ziva had stayed home, though, and Tony came in late, pale with exhaustion and very clearly lost inside his own head, and Tim followed Gibbs’ lead and let him be.

The Shalit deal was a lead item on ZNN so Tim had left that on their plasmas. He had Haaretz’s live-blog open, but he only refreshed it every half an hour or so. Things had slowed down since morning, and down in her lab Abby would be refreshing it every five minutes and listening to Israeli news, anyway.

His desk phone rang. Tim picked it up, nestling the receiver against his shoulder. “McGee.”

A split-second later he pulled it away: Abby got loud when she was excited. “They’re not hospitalizing him!” she announced. “He’s been cleared! He and his family are going to be on the heli any minute now!”

“That’s great news, Abby,” Tim told her. He slanted a look at Tony: he was slumped back in his chair and staring at his computer screen, so Tim figured he’d just seen the same news.

“Isn’t it?” she said. “I’m going to call Ziva now.” And she hung up.

Tim put the phone down and looked up at Gibbs. “Gilad Shalit has been medically cleared and will soon be on the heli home,” he announced.

“Yeah, McGee,” Gibbs said, not bothering to look at him. “I know.”

Day #1941, 10:55 EDT

He expected Ziva to default to her brown and greens. He expected her to still be wearing the same clothes he’d last seen her in, really, but if she’d showered and changed he would’ve expected her to be wearing dark cargo pants, a green shirt and a shapeless jacket. Instead, she stepped out of the elevator clutching the bottle of Champagne protectively close and wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt. At least her hair, though wet, was in all of its messy, curly glory.

The first words out of her mouth were, “Are they there yet?”

“They landed, but they’re still driving,” Tony said as he got up to meet her by her desk.

“Good. I mean, no, but I - ”

“Yeah, Ziva,” Gibbs said. He came over to her desk, too. “We get it.”

“Ziva!” Abby’s squeal was unmistakable. She came running from around McGee’s desk and pushed through the rest of them to wrap Ziva in yet another hug. “They landed, they’re almost there, and there’s a human chain with flowers and banners and everything and I’m so happy!” She released Ziva, grinned at her and turned around. “McGee!”

“Chill, Abbs,” he said. He lifted a package, revealed a package of single-use plastic champagne flutes. “I got them.”

Tony opened his mouth, fully intent on expressing his opinion on them drinking honest-to-goodness real Champagne out of plastic flutes but Abby was still beaming and Ziva was finally relaxing and Gibbs was glaring at him over her head, and Tony snapped his jaw shut.

“It seems that I am late for the party,” remarked Ducky, coming up from the direction of the break room, behind Tony.

“No, you are not,” Ziva said. She was messing with the computer. “We just need to... There.” Hebrew came spilling through the speakers, reporters trying to reign back their excitement and the unmistakable roar of a crowd in the background.

“Well?” Tony asked anxiously.

She shook her head. “Not yet,” she said. “You’ll know when...”

The reporter’s voice picked up, excitement spiking. The unmistakable pop of Champagne being opened sounded in the background. The crowd broke into a chant, Am Israel chai, and Tony had no idea what the first word meant but the other two were ‘Israel’, and ‘alive’.

Tony, like Ziva, stood frozen.

Ducky took the bottle from her hands. “Let me, Dear,” he said.

McGee put his hand on Tony’s arm and moved him gently aside, holding the flutes out for Ducky to fill while Abby passed them around.

She gave the first to Ziva, but Ziva nearly dropped it. Gibbs caught her and it, stabling both her hands with both of his. She looked up at him. He held her gaze for a long moment.

Something expanded in Tony’s chest, too vast for words like ache or relief. Ziva and Gibbs had been soldier and sergeant first, years before the rest of it happened. Abby was a daughter to Gibbs, too, and maybe Tony was something like a son, but Ziva was something else and something more, and though Tony could see that it was there he knew that the rest of them would only ever understand that from the outside.

Ziva made a tiny, small nod. Gibbs let go of her hands. She lifted her flute and turned around, a little, meeting everyone’s eyes for the first time in over a day.

Tony lifted his flute in response. “LeChayim,” he said.

She almost smiled. “To life,” she agreed, “and home.”

“Amen,” Ducky said.

Abby echoed it a split-second later, and then McGee did too.

Gibbs, unsurprisingly, didn’t, but he repeated, “To life and home,” and added, “Cheers.”

And then, finally, the smiles broke together with the tears.

* Haaretz English live blog

* Egyptian TV interview. Strong caution is advised.

* Gilad on the phone with his family

* Gilad's and Noam's first post-captivity embrace

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Comments {2}


(no subject)

from: alidiabin
date: Oct. 23rd, 2011 05:16 am (UTC)

Wow, that was a lovely fic.

I like that the team were there with Ziva. I like how you mentioned the bond between Gibbs and Ziva.

And the last bit was wonderful, it really brought home the 'life is precious' message.

Wonderful fic.

Reply | Thread

made of sea and sunlight

(no subject)

from: hagar_972
date: Oct. 23rd, 2011 10:23 am (UTC)

The challenge for this fic was the way canon rigged Ziva's relation to her background, what said background means in this context, and how to keep it all together.

"LeChayim" is simply the Hebrew parallel of "Cheers", something a native speaker would've used without thought, so it sort of only gained that weight in translation.

Reply | Parent | Thread