There’s a little girl in the refugee camp that she has tried hard not to fall in love with, but she’s failed miserably in the eight weeks that she’s been there.
Later, she’ll understand why.
Twelve days after Tony left Israel, Shmeil knocked on her door. He wasn’t the soothing old man that she’d expected either. Instead, he was the harsh advisor of her teenage years. The one who’d told her that there was another way of honoring Tali – one that didn’t involve Mossad. She’d been too sad and angry and headstrong to listen then, but she was different now.
“What’s the point?” he’d asked.
She had stared at him. “What is what point?”
He had gestured to the emptiness around her and the tears stains on her eyes from days and days of crying. “The pain, my Ziva. The pain.”
She had swallowed then, unable to speak over the lump in her throat.
“All I’m saying, is that if you’re going to do this to yourself,” he had paused then, “to both of you – then it should have a purpose.”
She’d found a purpose a week later. A group of students had deferred their IDF service in order to work in a refugee camp in Uganda for six months. Through a friend of a friend of Aunt Nettie, Ziva had found out that they needed a trip leader, an advisor of sorts. And she hadn’t wanted to go, but her Aunt and Schmeil had convinced her that it would be good for her. And maybe, just maybe she’d find purpose there.
And that’s where she met Amina.
Amina is barely three years old and she’s seen the worst of the world, but she doesn’t know it.
Her mother, not more than a child herself, died in the refugee camp that she was born in due to a lack of proper nourishment. Her father is a child soldier and they’re not sure they’ll ever know if he’s still alive, let alone his location. Amina is all alone and it’s no one’s but the time’s fault.
Ziva feels some sort of connection to it all.
On the morning of the first day of the eighth week of her stay in Uganda, she’s carrying two large pales of water back from the well when one of the nurses comes running towards her. Ziva’s first instinct is to think that one of the rebel groups, hostile to the UN aide, is launching an attack. She goes to drop the pales and run to meet the woman, but if Ziva’s learned anything in her time here, it’s the value of fresh water. So she places the pales on the ground and jogs up to meet the woman.
“What is wrong?” she asks.
The young woman shakes her head; she’s from the Netherlands, a UNICEF volunteer, that Ziva’s developed quite the rapport with. “It’s Amina,” she says, “she’s very sick. It happened overnight.”
Twelve hours later, it’s clear just how sick Amina is. She’s got an infection that has traveled to her spine through a cut. They want to bring her to Dubai or Germany, but there’s a lack of funds and they’re not even sure they can treat her there. Johns Hopkins in Baltimore is brought up, but it’s completely out of the realm of possibilities. They can clean it the best they can, but the infection will eventually take its toll.
Ziva feels powerless. She wants to help this little girl, but she doesn’t know how. She doesn’t know why she’s so attached to this girl, but all she can think about is that if this girl were somewhere else, her life wouldn’t be in jeopardy. It’s maddening.
Ziva stays up all night with Amina. The little girl cries and cries and Ziva strokes her head, keeps her hydrated. As dawn breaks, she realizes that maybe she can help.
Mary-Louise is a British woman in her mid-fifties. She’s in charge of the orphanage side of the camp. Her office is nothing more than a tent with a desk in it.
Ziva knows that she’s seen this course of events too many times before.
Mary-Louise looks up and removes her glasses as Ziva peals back the curtain of the tent and steps inside.
“Ms. David,” she smiles. “You look tired. What can I do for you?”
She takes a breath and clasps her hands. “It is about Amina,” she begins.
Mary-Louise nods. “I had assumed.”
“I want to …to help her. She’s so young and innocent. She deserves a life.”
“It is hard to cope with,” Mary-Louise acknowledges.
Ziva purses her lips before continuing, “I would like to take her to the… the US for treatment.”
“We can’t just send children with volunteers across the world. Surely, Ms. David, you can appreciate that.”
I can.” Ziva nods. “It is why I’d like to adopt her.”
Mary-Louise had looked at her like she was crazy, but in the fondest way possible. International adoptions are complicated, but they’re even more complicated when you have a US passport, but are living in a foreign country – without a job and single. Mary-Lou explained this to her and Ziva understood, she understood that by throwing your life away it meant that there were then some things that one couldn’t have when you wanted them.
But she assured Mary-Lou that this nomadic lifestyle that she was living was only temporary. As was her joblessness and…relationship status.
If he’d ever have again. Though she left that thought out.
Mary-Louise seemed to believe her or, at least, she knew that Ziva cared about Amina enough to only be looking out for the girl’s best interest and so they arranged for Ziva to become her temporary guardian. It was on a trial basis pending that Ziva lay down some roots and re-establish herself.
Less than forty-eight hours later, she was standing outside a room in Johns Hopkins Medical Center’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. They’d flown across the world and been greeted by a Doctor who made it her job to save those who it seemed had no one else. After a long day of procedures to clean the wound, Amina had finally fallen asleep and Ziva took that as a time to stretch her legs.
She had spent the day feeling like the mother of a sick child. She held Amina off and on and rubbed her back. Soothed her tears as the doctors and nurses attended to her. It was when one of the nurses referred to her as Mom that she realized she was in fact this child’s mother figure and that she wanted to be forever.
He’s not sure how in his right mind he allowed himself to break the speed limit all the way to Baltimore just off of Craig’s hunch, but he does. Craig had texted sometime earlier that day.
Since when is your partner back in the States? He’d asked and Tony had nearly fallen off his chair reading the message. Craig and all his buddies had known that Ziva’d left, some of them had even known how much it’d killed him. Craig, an old friend from the Baltimore homicide division had left the department and now did private security. Currently, he was doing work at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore and that day, he’d seen Ziva walk in with a baby.
As soon as Gibbs lets them go, Tony flies out of the office. He leaves McGee and Bishop asking question, but he doesn’t care. He tries to tell himself that he’s not going to Baltimore, but he takes a left out of the Navy Yard instead of a right.
He flashes his badge to get into the hospital. Visiting hours are over and then he goes from pediatric floor to pediatric floor flashing his badge and a photo of Ziva that he has on his phone. He doesn’t use his favorite, but one that looks more like a mug shot.
It’s in the ICU that one of the nurses nods. That’s Amina’s mother she says. He’s about to ask about said baby when she nods over his shoulder and he realizes that “Amina’s mother” is behind him.
He’s speechless, but Ziva’s not.
“Is there a bolo out on me?” she asks, raising an eyebrow.
He smiles then and scratches the side of his head. “Well,” he says, “No. There’s not.” He tries to explain how and why he looks like a stalker. “I have a buddy. He does hospital security on the side. Recognized you from…” he trails off.
And they stand there awkwardly for moment. It’s not the reunion that either of them had imagined and he feels like an idiot.
“It is…very nice to see you.” She says. “Very nice.”
The statement loosens him a bit and he shifts on his feet, moving just a little closer. “Not as nice as it is to see you.”
He feels like it’s the moment of truth and he doesn’t know how she’ll react, but she bites her lip and her eyes glaze just a bit and all hope isn’t lost.
She turns and looks behind her and longingly down the hall. “Do you want to see why I’m here?” She asks, a bit shyly.
He nods. Tony’s eager. And they walk down the hall together until they reach room fourteen. The nurse seated outside nods to her and tells her Amina’s doing fine. She’s still sleeping. Ziva thanks her and turns back to Tony. She sidles up close to him and folds her arms as they both stare at the little girl beyond the glass. He feels like they’re in observation again and it makes him warm inside.
“Amina,” she says, her voice caressing the name. “She’ll be three next week. She was going to die in the refugee camp that I was working in so I adopted her.”
“You adopted her?”
She nods. “She has no one,” she says. “And she’s so full of life and innocence and potential. I could not leave her there.”
“Nor should you have.” He agrees. He doesn’t want his surprise to be confused as anything but support. “She must be one special little kid.”
“She is.” Ziva smiles. “She speaks some of her native language and I am teaching her Hebrew and English.”
Amina twitches inside of the hospital crib and she enters the room, beckoning him to follow. He does, approaching the bottom of the crib. Amina’s asleep and she’s got the blanket bunched up around her and between her little fingers.
He’s never seen Ziva look anyone like that, not even him.
He watches her run her fingers through the girls little curls. She turns towards him, “I do not like to leave her alone. It’s such a foreign place, so different than she’s ever experienced. She is scared, Tony and she can’t understand much.”
He leans over the cribs and tentatively, looking at Ziva for permission, reaches a hand to stroke her back. Maybe it’s because she’s connected to Ziva, but Tony already feels attached to this little girl.
“Is she going to be okay?” he asks.
Ziva nods. “In a week or two, we will go home.”
He thinks before asking his next question. “Where’s home, Ziva?”
She takes a sharp intake of breath and he worries about what her answer will be. “Um… home is the unit next to mine. It seems by nosey neighbor moved out once I wasn’t there to inquire about.”
Home is DC.
He nods and tries to continue the conversation, but his eyes have glazed over.
“I am serious,” she says. “I am sure that you have…moved on, but I would like to be…us… if you’ll have me.” And her voice goes almost silent at the end.
His hand moves from Amina and he turns back to Ziva. He steps forward and reaches for her hand. “I haven’t found moved on because there’s no one to move on to. You’re it.”
She nods and swipes at the tears brimming below her eyes.
“We don’t need to figure things out now, though Ziva.” He nods toward Amina. “She needs you.”
She nods again and rubs Amina’s tiny little fingers.
“Night, Ziva,” he whispers.
She startles at the words and calls after her. “Tony, will you sit with us?”
He’d like nothing more. That’s his future wife. And daughter.
SHUT UP YOU ARE PERFECT GIRL
Tony: “This is nice. I missed the old Ziva.”
Ziva: “I can tell.”
Tony: “Don’t flatter yourself, that’s just my knee.”
its because youre perf and wonderful and everybody loves you