Elizabeth woke, gasping, the after image of her mother’s exploding car still emblazoned on her eyelids. The nightmare had her heart still bounding in her chest as she gasped and sobbed. Mixed up in the images of her mother’s fiery death were memories of her fight with the Master, his hypnotic eyes and mocking speech, his fangs sinking into her neck, the water as it entered her mouth and washed down her throat to flood her lungs.
She wiped a hand over her face, cleaning off the cold sweat, and sat up with a sigh. It was the third time she had woken that night, and she now knew for certain that there would be no return to slumber. She cast around for something, anything, to do to entertain herself. Exercise was out, they didn’t have a TV, and she had already read all of the books from her mother’s house, most of them several times.
She suddenly realised, almost as though for the first time, that she really wasn’t in her mother’s house anymore. The realisation sent a pang of pain through her heart, and her eyes teared up as she thought of Sunnydale, and everything she had lost there. She sobbed softly, and curled up in a ball around her pillow, using it to muffle her sobs so that at least Ziva would get a decent night’s sleep.
Trying to calm down, she stood and paced silently, turning her thoughts to the day ahead. She was nervous; she had never been in the type of situation that her sister was in, but she knew it was very different from anything she had been trained for by Mossad.
Giving up on distracting herself that way, she decided to take advantage of the very thing that caused her grief and slipped silently out of her room and down the corridor, heading for the living room. She had set out some of Ziva’s books on a shelf, ones that she hadn’t read as yet, and she quickly selected one and headed back to her room to read.
Ziva woke, as was her habit, early in the morning. Not wanting to disturb Elizabeth, she slipped quietly down the hall, but stopped when she saw the narrow beam of light coming from under her sister’s door. She cautiously opened it, and found her sister sprawled on her bed, head rolled back at an uncomfortable looking angle, a book still clasped in one hand, a soft snore coming from her slightly parted lips.
Ziva smiled softly at the picture, and slipped out of the room. As soon as the door was closed, the smile fell from her face as she considered the possible implications of what she had just seen. Had Elizabeth not been able to sleep? Had she had another nightmare? Ziva didn’t know what to do, how to handle this. Did she act like she didn’t see it or try and talk to Elizabeth about it?
Still trying to figure it out, she made her way to the bathroom and took a quick shower, then went to the kitchen and grabbed some breakfast. She couldn’t leave Elizabeth at home alone, so a run was out of the question, meaning that, in reality, she was up this early for no reason.
She sat at the table, picking at a small imperfection in the wood as she thought. She knew she wasn’t really equipped to deal with this, but that she had no real choice but to do the best she could and muddle through. She wished, sincerely, that she knew more about these things, and made herself a solemn promise to get her hands on some books that might, potentially, help. For now, she decided to sound Elizabeth out when she woke, and see where it went from there.
Elizabeth woke groggily, her neck stiff and her body cold. She sat up slowly, setting the book to one side and stood. She stretched carefully, her ribs twinging slightly, and glanced at her alarm clock. She had had about an hour’s sleep, and she groaned at the thought of getting through the entire day, her first day, full of first impressions, without sleep.
She made her way to the bathroom, using the toilet then splashing cold water on her face, which revived her slightly. She followed her nose to the kitchen and the coffee pot, grunting in acknowledgement of Ziva, who sat at the table, staring into her own cup, a meditative expression on her face.
She sat, sipping the piping hot beverage and blinking slowly, staring at the wall opposite. She didn’t notice Ziva watching her, a concerned expression on her face.
Ziva bit her lip thoughtfully, not entirely sure how to approach the issue. Demonstrating once more her complete lack of subtlety she came right out and asked. “How much sleep did you get last night?”
“Ummm…” said Elizabeth slowly, not meeting her sister’s eyes. “I’m fine,” she said instead, scowling.
“That was not my question,” Ziva replied, frowning.
Elizabeth sighed angrily and stood, pushing her chair noisily back from the table and left the room.
“Elizabeth!” cried Ziva, frustrated.
“Leave me alone! I’m fine!” yelled her sister even as she stomped down the hallway and into her room.
“That went well,” muttered Ziva, sitting back at the table with a sigh.
Elizabeth sank onto her bed with a groan, already feeling bad about yelling at Ziva. Her sister, even though this had been an incredible shock for her, was doing her best to help, and was really incredibly supportive, and she had repaid her by screaming at her. She bit her lip, forcing herself not to burst into tears once more, and fell backwards onto her quilt, staring up at the ceiling.
Ziva waited approximately five minutes, then headed down to Elizabeth’s room. She knocked quietly on the door, and opened it when Elizabeth didn’t answer her. Her sister was lying on her back, staring at the ceiling, and slowly turned her head to look at her.
“I’m sorry,” they said at the same time, then laughed humorlessly together.
“Did you have another nightmare?” asked Ziva gently, sitting down on the edge of the bed, and Elizabeth nodded.
“It’s strange. I used to get them all the time, dreaming about what was coming, but this is…worse, somehow, even though it already happened. It doesn’t make any sense.” She shrugged one shoulder, shifting restlessly on the bed.
Ziva smiled sadly, combing her fingers gently through Elizabeth’s hair, the movement calming them both. “We’ll work it out together,” she said gently after a time. “Just…next time you can’t sleep, let me know? If you’re going to be miserable, we might as well be miserable together.”
“There’s no reason for you to deny yourself sleep just because my mind refuses to allow it to me,” objected Elizabeth, getting up on one elbow to frown at her sister.
“We’ll work something out,” said Ziva calmly, not wanting to get into another fight so soon after their first, albeit minor, altercation.
Elizabeth nodded slowly and stood. Making her way over to the closet, she started pulling out clothes, then, with a slight smile at her sister, she headed for the bathroom.
Ziva made her way back to the kitchen and finished her coffee, then cleaned up the few dirty dishes, leaving them to dry on the sink.
Elizabeth re-entered the kitchen, and turned to face her. “Ready to go?”
“As I’ll ever be,” replied Elizabeth, shrugging slightly, and the two of them headed for the car.