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but a walking shadow

by: Bether (Send Feedback)

Series: - No Series - #1
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 1455
Rating: YTEEN
Character(s): Jethro Gibbs, Ziva David
Category(ies): Angst/Drama, Character Study, Episode Related, Friendship, Vignette
Pairing(s): - No Pairing -
Episode(s): 3-24 Hiatus (2)
Summary: Ziva-centric one-shot vignette set during the second part of Hiatus Part II. A look into her thought process as she finally goes to Gibbs and helps him regain his memory. Spoilers for both Hiatus episodes and Kill Ari Part II.

Chapters: 1

but a walking shadow

Disclaimer: Characters mentioned are used without permission and are trademarks of CBS/DPB. I am simply borrowing them for my purposes. Please don't sue.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
-- e. e. cummings, i carry your heart with me

Most of the time, Ziva David wasn't one for reflection. It wasn't that she held a lot of regrets in her life (well, not exactly, anyway) but more that making the hard decisions weighed easier on her soul when they were made and then done with. Especially when those decisions concerned life and death. She didn't mind, though--in fact, she liked it that way. Living as she did worked for her. It had for years.

Unfortunately, Gibbs losing his memory added a new weight on her. This one lay deep within her chest, making it hard to think. Hard to breathe. Hard to function. The only way she could ignore something so heavy was to pretend everything was okay. To pretend that she wasn't concerned for Gibbs (because he would be fine, so what was the point, yes?) and act as though everything was business as usual.

Deep down, she knew it was not business as usual. But if she was going to be of any use on the case, she had to act as if it was. It didn't matter if it bewildered Tony or McGee. It didn't matter if it angered Abby, though she could have done without the subsequent provocation. (Frustration like this leading to violence only made her crave more violence and without a proper outlet, well…)

But the truth was simple. The case was not getting solved. Tony knew it. McGee knew it. Abby knew it. Jenny knew it. Hell, even Ducky knew it. They needed Gibbs. There was no option left. And if there was one thing Ziva David was good at (besides being a Mossad officer), it was doing whatever needed to get done in order to have justice served. Apparently the others couldn't. So she would.

It wasn't hard to slip past the nurse's desk, despite the late hour, and she didn't have any difficulty finding Gibbs' room. She had heard the number often enough in the last few days. Her footsteps were a quiet tapping as she glided into the room. He looked peaceful where he lay and she wondered if remembering would take that away from him. Ziva shook it off. It was a risk she had to take.

Before she fully prepared herself for waking him, she touched his arm absentmindedly. It was not the sort of thing she usually did--her movements were known for being both methodical and calculated--and it surprised her when he reacted. Part of her had needed to know that the tubes were real, though. (He'd always seemed so immortal before…) That he was real. Just to be sure.

There was no recognition in his eyes when he looked at her. No spark of any kind. Her heart had lifted when he mentioned September 11th (an odd occurrence) but it was for naught. He didn't remember the day. It was a relief to see him moving and asking questions, even standing. This was all good. Good but not good enough. She needed more. She needed to find a way to reach him--the Gibbs she knew.

It was so frustrating! She could hear herself losing her temper. But maybe that was what he needed? Everybody else handled him with kid gloves. She did not own these gloves. And it worked! Even for a moment, she saw the stare. She could feel tears of joy forming in the corners of her eyes upon seeing it but he was still so agitated. He didn't remember.

That's when it hit her. She grabbed his hand and made him slap her head. It was so Gibbs, surely it would jog something in his mind. His eyes widened and she saw it. She could see his mind working. Like he almost remembered, but wasn't enough. It was then that she realized the truth. The truth she'd been hiding from herself. They needed Gibbs for the case, yes, but it was just an excuse.

All of this--all the rationalizing and ignoring and waiting. She did it to hide because, in truth, she needed him to remember as much as the rest of them. More, even. He was the only one who knew what really happened that night with Ari. The only one because he had been there. The reports were false. The story she told her father was a lie. Nobody else knew and if he couldn't remember…

Then the memory of that ultimate truth would be hers and hers alone. It would be her burden to carry without any hope of relief. She had never spoken of losing her brother and never cried save that first night (and even that was short-lived due mostly to shock) and now she might never have a chance. Not with the one person who knew what she'd really lost that night.

Would it still be real, then? If she was left alone to remember and she ignored it, it would be like it never happened. It was just one shot. One single shot perfectly timed and aimed. One shot that had so fundamentally changed her course in life, she barely recognized her former self. But if Gibbs couldn't remember… it would be like losing all she'd gained. She couldn't explain why but it felt true.

She was crying, now, but only barely. She knew what she had to do, and she knew it would hurt. "Ari." His name and she could barely keep her composure. "Ari killed Kate." The look again. It was working. Something in his mind was clicking. Taking a breath, Ziva pushed forward, "And I--" She could feel the sobs catch in her throat. She'd never said it aloud before. She couldn't then.

But right now, here with Gibbs, it felt like she needed to. No matter how it hurt. It was time to speak the truth. Because he was the one person that she could do this with. And maybe… maybe they both needed it (if for different reasons). "I killed Ari."

It sounded strange to her ears and the tears were coming full strength now. Ziva couldn't remember the last time she'd cried--really cried like this. Not at Ari's funeral. Maybe at Tali's? And that had been many years ago. Her mind was a mess, and she knew that things would never be fixed if he didn't remember that moment. (If they even could be fixed at all.)

"Your brother."

Even in the haze of her mind, Ziva could feel relief wash over her. He was remembering--truly remembering. She had not told him that. "Yes," was all she managed to get out, though. It was an effort just to keep from breaking. She couldn't be weak; she was Mossad. But Gibbs was… he was… all the hope she had to assure her she hadn't killed Ari--her flesh and blood--for nothing.

"You killed your brother," Gibbs continued, slowly with growing certainty. "To save me."

There was no option for a verbal response now. Ziva was, as Tony would say, a 'hot mess'. She nodded as the last of her resolve broke. She was shaking and sobbing but the weight in her chest was beginning to lift. Gibbs wrapped his arms around her, holding her tightly and petting her hair. It was something her father would not have done, but she was eternally grateful all the same.

Minutes passed before her sobs quieted to whimpers and then she was only sniffling as she extracted herself from the embrace she'd so desperately needed (not that she'd admit or otherwise acknowledge that fact, even under pain of death). After a few deep breaths, she met his gaze evenly. "Thank you," she said, tucking her hair behind her ear--the only sign of her discomfort.

Gibbs smiled a little, the way he always did when he was amused by his agents' antics, but chose not to comment. She was grateful for the reprieve. "So, Pin Pin Pula?" he asked instead, running a hand over his recently shortened hair and pulling a face. Ziva nodded. "Are you waiting for an invitation, Officer David? Find me some clothes!" He scowled. "I'm not going to headquarters in this gown."

Still visibly relieved, Ziva smirked a little. "Yes, Gibbs." She wiped her eyes quickly and blew her nose with a tissue before heading for the door.

"And find the doctor, would ya?" he called after her. "I don't wanna spend another minute in this damn room!"

Ziva smiled as she followed her boss's orders. Gibbs was back. And that was enough for her.

Chapters: 1

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