A spin-off oneshot from Michael Bashan's POV. I have done all that I can do for her. Now, I stand inside my office against the wall with a gun pointed at my head by my one-time partner, and wonder why he doesn't realize what he threw away.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own any of NCIS or its characters.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This spin-off is based on Michael and Ziva's conversation in Chapter 4 (Say In Theory…) of Be Still, where Ziva says that he will be killed for helping her and he agrees.
NOTE: I just realized I cut the season off at Undercovers and yet Shalom seems to have happened… Forgive my blunder, please.
"Where is she?" he asks me quietly.
"I don't know, Benyamin," I reply in an equally quiet voice. He cocks the gun and points it at my head.
"Don't lie to me, Michael," he threatens. "You know the rules."
"I don't know where Ziva is, Benyamin."
We had been partners back in our younger years, our field officer years. We had laughed that our families were clearly intertwined in some celestial plan when Kemuel and Raphael were born the same month as Ziva. When Leah was born a week apart from Tali. Little did we know what tragedies would befall our children. Ari, killed by the Americans and a traitor to Mossad. Raphael, captured and presumably killed by Hamas. Kemuel beheaded by Hamas. Leah and Tali, killed in the Haifa Harbour bombing.
I have only Aviah left, though she lives in Russia, working in an orphanage there. Aviah and Ziva.
Benyamin… as far as Benyamin is concerned, he has no children. I'm not entirely certain he ever saw his children as such: Ari was his mole, Ziva his officer, Tali his martyr.
Had I ever seen two such happy children as I had that sunny winter's morning when Raphael and Ziva had married? Had I ever seen idealism at its finest – to believe so strongly that they could make this work, make this last?
Chanah, Elisheba and I knew better than to voice that reservation where young teenage ears could overhear and eager young teenage mouths could carry it on. Benyamin, on the other hand, made no such qualms about voicing his disapproval. Not of Raphael necessarily, but of their hasty decision. He has always considered Ziva rash, unthinking, blindly passionate and insubordinate – such a difference from his cool, calm, collected son and his quietly subdued younger daughter. But it was always just the opposite: she seemed rash when she threw herself headlong into her pursuits, but every move, every decision was thought out piece by piece. Ziva has always, to put it simply, lived with passion. She lives with passion, she works with passion, she loves with passion and she grieves the same way. She has never dealt in middle ground, she has always dealt in extremes.
That was part of the reason we had so doubted her relationship with Raphael would work: they were both so wild and there was nobody grounded enough in that relationship to pull the other back.
Raphael's capture and the resulting loss of their child changed her. I still believe that Benyamin took advantage of her weakened state of grief to push her into Komemuite. She calmed (or did she subdue?), she focused her extremes into work, Ari and Tali. And when Kemuel died, when Tali died, when Ari died, I thought perhaps she had finally broken beyond hope of repair.
I don't know what it was about the Americans that made her change, but when we finally found her again, she had changed drastically. You could tell in her eyes that she found that middle ground.
We watched her and her lover for almost a year and a half in Maine. Watched as they played the role of a normal suburban family to perfection. Watched the reality in the lies, as they brought a struggling restaurant back from brink of business death to a booming success. As they raised a daughter.
It was amazing to watch, to see the joy and love and adoration in her eyes as she would swing her little girl around on an afternoon in the local park. As she would let her lover pull them into his arms, laughing when he kissed her.
For a moment, just a brief moment, I had a vision of how it could've been with Raphael. It could've been my son who took her and Asa into his arms, it could've been the beaches of Tel Aviv instead of the greenery of Maine. I could have been there with them, playing with my grandson instead of running surveillance on a missing officer undercover.
I didn't tell Benyamin about the child. I couldn't: he would be angry enough when Ziva was extracted. And it was clear to me that Ziva didn't care about the rules and agreement that she had signed upon becoming metsada. She had fallen in love with the American. She loved her child, and she had become attached to this false normality. She would never give up her child, even by her father's order.
Ziva was young. She was barely 22 – hardly more than a teenager. It was hardly fair to expect her to spend the rest of her life alone.
When we came to take her back, we were waiting outside Teklava. She had escaped out the back door when the Americans were coming to the back, carrying the wriggling little girl in her arms. I could see how her hold on her toddler tightened when she saw me, how she pulled her in closer to her body as the officers took hold of her arm to escort her into the car.
I saw the way Benyamin's face went white when he saw the child as Ziva slid into the car. The way Ziva wouldn't look at him when he started berating her, her gaze focusing on the little girl chattering in toddler-speak to her. The slight smile that graced her lips as she returned the speech, ignoring her father.
It took all my strength not to stop Benyamin when he began striking her. I was amazed at how calm she seemed, how steadfast she was in her resolution to keep her little family safe and intact. And when he finally tired of trying to break through her wall, I knew that this would not end well. As I watched her face when she begged her lover to keep their child safe, I knew that she knew as well. She knew that she would die in the next few hours, would die a slow and painful death.
It stung, when she called me her father's minion. Would she believe that I was putting her through this for him? That I wouldn't have much rathered let her go, let her live this new life she had constructed and had fought so hard to keep? But no, her father was still my deputy director and I still had to follow the rules of Mossad. I couldn't risk losing my job, even for Ziva. Not when I still clung to that last shred of hope, that last tendril of faith that my son was still alive somewhere.
Ziva had given up. That much I knew for certain. I didn't want to bring up that ghost for her, not now. She loved another man now. To her, Raphael is dead. It has been seven years. The chances that he's still alive? So minimal most don't even consider them.
And as Benyamin left the car and me in charge of supervision, I saw my chance. I ordered the officers off, ordered them to speak of it to no one. I couldn't watch my daughter die. I wouldn't live through that again – Leah's bloodied body in my arms was enough. I wouldn't lose another child to Mossad – I had lost Raphael, had lost Kemuel. The mere memories of Beth Shalom School had driven Aviah out of Israel.
So that was how I ended up here.
I have done all that I can do for her. Now, I stand inside my office against the wall with a gun pointed at my head by my one-time partner, and wonder why he doesn't realize what he threw away.
"I will ask you one more time, Michael," Benyamin said slowly, finger tightening around the trigger. "Where is she?"
"I don't know, Benyamin." I don't know where she is, but I know who she is with. She is with the man she loves and the daughter she adores. And for me, that will have to do.
And as he pulls the trigger and the burn of the bullet penetrates my head, I have to leave my loved ones in hands far more capable than mine. Elisheba, Aviah, Raphael... Ziva.
I can do no more than this.