Some days, he remembers the man he used to be.

Most days, he's the man his father made him.

It would be easier if he could simply hate the Americans. Despise them for their arrogant certainty that they had the right to dictate to the world how it should be, yet be so piously shocked when the world demands they bear some of the price. Then he meets people like NCIS agent Caitlin Todd and he wonders what it must be like, to grow up so hopelessly naïve about the world around her. It angers him, almost as much as he wishes he did not have to see the lack of it, in his own sister's eyes.

She cared too much, his Ziva.

In his own way, he had protected her. Used her, certainly. Allowed her to use him. She was the leash his father used to keep him in line, and most days, it was the only thing that told him he was not yet completely damned. Each time he pulled the trigger, each time he did something in the name of survival, the name of the mission, he asked himself if she would approve. She was his only moral compass these days.

And she would not approve of what he planned to do.

So she must never know.

He wondered if Gibbs would understand. Poor Gibbs, who had the misfortune to be as demanding as his father, yet still possessing a soul. Would he understand that Ari was bequeathing him the only thing worth fighting for in this wretched mockery of a world? His Ziva did not deserve to become her brother, and she would. She would, when he was gone. They would use her, like they had used him, and he really could not allow that.

For the moment, she was safe.

He was their prize pony. Their tame monster on a leash. For the moment, they needed her to keep him under control. His body count was getting too high however, and he could see his future in her shadowed eyes. The concern. The growing fear that he just didn't care anymore. When he was gone, they would have no more use for her. Not as she was. They would demand more, and she would become like him.

A monster for the cause.

He had never cared about the Americans. They could solve their own problems. The man he used to be cared very much that he had failed his mother. Sacrificed to the cause by the very man who should have protected her. He had failed his sister, killed by the men who had every reason to think he was one of them. What sort of man was he, that two of the three women who had depended on him, were now dead?

So…

He would save the last of them.

Caitlin was so very sure of herself, secure in her place in the world. It had startled him that Gibbs could so easily walk the line Ari's father had failed. Gibbs understood what it was to risk the very woman he was honor-bound to protect. So Ari would gift him with the most precious thing he possessed. He would give him Ziva.

If that gifting caused Gibbs a little pain, well, it was only fair. The shoulder Gibbs had ruined was the very reason time was so crucial now. This would be his last mission. Too many people would be suspicious if Ari was the only survivor. He was not even certain his father did not intend to make him a gift to the Americans. It was regrettable that he must honor his father's intent, if this was so. He'd have preferred to survive, if only to give the bastard heart-burn. But his father would understand that much of his duty. Ari had taken a woman from Gibbs. It was just that he compensate him with another.

Fitting, if that sacrifice be his only remaining daughter.

And truly, they had only themselves to blame. They had shown that they knew how to value a woman like Ziva. It had been in Caitlin's eyes, that reminder of his sister, and it had made him hesitate. He had never been able to decide if he despised her for hesitating, or admired her for seeing something in him other than a monster. It had made him study them. It had made him angry for the life he had not realized his sisters could have had.

Ziva would want to apologize for her family's shame and even the avenging God of his childhood appeared to agree with his plan. A woman who knew Ziva would soon be in a position of authority at NCIS. It was rather ironic. And it was a window of opportunity Ari would not ignore.

He would give Gibbs his victory. His last act would vindicate his sister in the eyes of their father and the NCIS. The Americans would get their terrorists. Mossad would get no excuse to blame his sister. And Gibbs? Gibbs would get Ari. Perhaps Gibbs would even fire the fatal bullet, although Ari would prefer if he did not. When he died, it should be at the hands of his sister. He had placed his life in her hands often enough. He saw no reason to stop now. He could trust her to be swift and merciful with his death.

And it was the only way Gibbs would trust her.

He would have to think on the right words to motivate her.

Now, however, he had a toy to buy. Something fluffy. He thought perhaps he would look for a child that reminded him of his sister to give it to. If NCIS did what they were supposed to do, it would not matter. If they failed, then they were unworthy of Ziva and the child would not live to see the devastation their failure wrought.

The only mercy a monster was allowed, these days.