Author's note:

Apologies for the long delay in updating this story… Life has just been incredibly hectic.

I would like to thank you for reading and for your reviews, PM's, Favourites and Followers.

I really appreciate your feedback and support and hope to write more often going forward.

Here's the next chapter… Enjoy…

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The next 48 hours passed in waves of agony, annoyance, fear and helplessness for Gibbs.

Agony due to the incessant pain in his shoulder and his refusal to take more meds, annoyance because McGee, Tony, Ziva and Fornell were no closer to findings a lead on the bastards who were after Zara, fear because Zara suffered another seizure and was still fighting the damn fever and helplessness because there was nothing he could do to change any of this.

He sat down on the bed next to Zara and looked at her. The sun was setting and he noted that her skin was smooth and dry. He placed his good hand on her forehead. She was still warm but did not appear to have a fever.

Good…

It's about time you pull through this…

He caressed her forehead, moving her hair back and watched her turn into his touch.

"You need to wake up, Zara." He whispered.

She didn't make a sound, just continued sleeping.

Gibbs moved his hand down the side of her face and caressed the spot where the tape from the feeding tube had left a red spot. He remembered how her body had jerked on the bed earlier that afternoon as Ducky with Ziva and Abby's help had removed it.

"Why are you doing that?" he had demanded.

"Calm down Jethro." Ducky had replied.

"Duck!" he had warned.

"I want her to wake up." Ducky had replied. "Being hungry might help with that."

"Are you sure? Isn't it too soon?" Gibbs questioned.

"The sooner she wakes up the better Jethro. She has a severe head injury and has been unconscious for almost 2 days. If she does not awake in the next few hours, we will need to take her back to the ER and …"

Ducky didn't finish.

"And?" he'd demanded. "What aren't you telling me?"

"Jethro…" Ducky seemed reluctant to continue.

Abby and Ziva exchanged worried looks before looking back at him.

He remembered how bile had risen up into his throat when he realized what Ducky was trying to say.

"Is she in a coma!" he'd growled.

"Gibbs, you need to calm down." Ziva had stated as she and Abby left Zara's side and moved towards him.

"Please, Gibbs." Abby had whispered. "Sit down."

He hadn't even realised how unsteady he was until he'd felt the chair Ziva had placed behind him touch the back of his knees. He sat because he didn't want to risk falling flat on his face.

"You…" He had to swallow. "You think she might be in a coma."

"It's a possibility, but I cannot confirm anything until more tests are run."

Looking at Zara now, Gibbs caressed her cheek again. The hours were ticking by and he was terrified that she was not going to wake up.

He whispered almost as a prayer, "Come on, Zara. Wake up, please."

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It was dark when Gibbs suddenly jerked awake. He blinked as he realized that someone had covered him with a blanket.

DiNozzo.

The curtains were however still open and moonlight filled the room. Sighing as he rolled onto his side and reached for his phone.

11pm…

"Mmm." He heard a deep moan and instantly turned to look at Zara.

"Hey!" he gasped as he pushed himself up against the headboard. Reaching out an unsteady hand he ran it gently over her head. "Are you finally waking up?"

"Mmm." Zara moaned again as she turned her head to rub her cheek against his hand.

"Come on, Zara. Wake up?"

"Mmm," she murmured as she gently stretched her body and pressed up against him.

"Just open your eyes, just for a second," he coaxed.

"Not… yet…" she murmured.

Gibbs couldn't stop the smile that touched the corners of his lips.

You're not in a coma!

Oh God, you don't have a fever either!

"Zara, open your eyes." he cajoled. "And tell me how you're feeling."

"Mmm… thirsty…" she murmured.

Gibbs turned to the pedestal next to the bed and grabbed a glass of water with a straw in it.

"Open your lips," he ordered as he gently touched the straw to her lips.

She wrapped her lips around it and took to gentle swallow.

"Not too much and not too fast." Gibbs warned.

"Mmm." She touched her hand to his and wrapped her fingers around his hand as she took another sip.

"That's enough for now." Gibbs said as he pulled the straw out of her mouth.

"Mmm." she complained.

"Now, open your eyes for me." He pleaded as he placed the glass back on the pedestal.

"Just a … few more … minutes … please." Zara whispered as she snuggled closer to him and lifted her head and placed it in his lap as she wrapped her arms around his waist. He was surprised and smiled as he placed his hand lightly on her head and stroked her hair.

"Mmm… feels nice... head hurts… don't stop…" she sighed.

"I won't," he replied as he continued stroking her hair and gently massaging her neck. "I need you to open your eyes."

"Okay… soon."

"And we need to get you something to eat."

"Yes… food…" she snuggled closer. "Soon..."

Was this really happening?

Was she really awake, aware and okay?

He continued stroking her hair and enjoyed the feeling of her arms lying loosely around his waist and her body pressed up against him. She sighed as she relaxed against him.

It just felt so right. So calm. So safe. So natural.

Then without warning, Gibbs felt her tense up and heard her breathing change.

"It's okay, Zara."

"Gibbs!" she gasped as she pulled away, her eyes flashing open.

"You're safe. I won't let anything happen to you." He reassured her as she pushed herself up against the headboard, pulling further away from him. She moaned as she pressed her hand to her head.

"Easy, Zara. Just breathe. Everything is going to be okay." He reassured her as he took her hand into his and gently squeezed it.

"Where … are we? How … how did I … get here?"

"Safe house. DiNozzo carried you up. Ducky, Ziva and Abby have been taking care of you."

"How long … was I out?" she asked, her hand pressed to her head.

"A while."

"I'm sorry."

"Shhh, you have nothing to be sorry about."

"I'm causing … so much trouble... for you … your team…"

"It's okay. Just calm down." He said as he wrapped his good arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. She didn't resist and wrapped her arms around him again. He reached for his phone.

"I wish I … I could remember …"

"It's going to be okay." He flipped the phone open.

"Who I am … why someone's … trying to kill me…?"

"Shhh, Zara. I've got you. You're safe." Gibbs said holding her close as he called Ducky.

Nothing's going to happen to you on my watch…

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Author's note:

That's it for this chapter. Let me know your thoughts.