Truths and Covert Lies: Chapter 49 - Conclusion, Part 2
A/N: So, this is it. The last chapter. It's a bit long, so I was thinking about making it two chapters, but ultimately decided that it works better this way. And for everyone who asked about those test results, when have I ever left you hanging? Patience, my dear readers :)
As always, I really enjoyed taking you through this story and loved reading what you thought of it. I do have plans for the next story in this little series, but so far, all I have written is a pretty good opening and a not-so-good second chapter. It's pretty slow going at this point, and I don't foresee it speeding up any time soon; med students may have a lot of time for writing, but interns most certainly do not. So, the next story will come when it comes. I wish I could offer you something to tide you over until then (I know, what a lousy time to drop you off with nothing, considering the real show's summer hiatus), but sadly, I've got nothing.
Ziva David sighed in her impatience as she waited in the outer office of Mossad's interim director, earning her a sympathetic glance from Sarah, the administrative assistant whom Interim Director Ruthven inherited from her father. She knew what Sarah was thinking: only a month ago, there was no way Ziva David would have been kept waiting in that outer office. She wondered if she was being punished for the fact that her father had been promoted over Ruthven three years before. She wondered if Sarah were being punished for something in the fact that she was at the office at such a strange hour.
"Director Ruthven will see you now," Sarah said a moment later, shooting the younger woman another sympathetic glance.
"Interim director," Ziva corrected as she rose. Sarah smiled slightly.
"I would suggest you not make that distinction to him," she said dryly. Ziva smiled in response before entering the inner office.
She could still recognize many of the things from the last time she had been in that office, a year before. The large mahogany desk was the same, the portraits of Ben-Gurion and the current president and prime minister were still exactly as they were, the conference table was still present, although rotated ninety degrees from its previous position. But of course, the man behind the desk was completely different.
"Officer David," Ruthven said, remaining sitting. "Please, sit." He gestured toward the chairs on the other side of the oversized desk. Ziva knew better than to sit; like chairs in Interrogation, they were unbalanced and uncomfortable, designed to keep the person sitting in them ill at ease.
"I will stand," she replied, crossing her arms over her chest defiantly. A single eyebrow rose, then fell back as Ruthven shrugged.
"Very well," he replied. "I had the opportunity to review your personnel file earlier today. Very impressive." He paused, making a show of turning a few pages in the thick folder open on his desk. "Considered to be fluent in five languages and conversant in four others, near perfect scores on the firing range, and impressive operational history." He glanced back up at her. "What I can not figure out is why a trained and vetted metsada operative is investigating crime scenes at a fairly unknown American agency."
"It is a liaison position—"
"A liaison position would have you working with their director, likely in anti-terrorism manners, given your background. It would not have you taking photographs of dead sailors and sifting through dirt for forensic evidence." He held her gaze for a moment before turning away in a practiced move of disinterest. "You have done extensive operations in Eastern Europe in the past. You will report to Moscow in four weeks."
"No." The word, bluntly spoken, escaped her lips before she had time to think about it and form a more eloquent response. Ruthven turned back to her, his eyebrow raised. She imagined that even in his previous role as a deputy director, he wasn't accustomed to people speaking back to him.
"The only reason such a position existed, or that you have held it for so long, is because of your father," he said plainly. "In case you have not yet realized, Officer David, your father is no longer here. You can expect your favored treatments to end right now."
"I will not go to Moscow." She said those words with emphasis, lest he not realize that she was serious.
"Those are your orders, Officer David, and if you would like your association with Mossad to continue—"
"Then maybe I would not like my association with Mossad to continue." He blinked, his first real expression of surprise. "I will return to Washington, DC, with or without your blessing, Interim Director." The emphasis on his full title was subtle, but she could tell that it hit its mark.
"That will be difficult, without an official reason to enter the country."
"There are other ways of getting to America." She just hoped that if it became necessary, Tony hadn't recanted his proposal.
Ruthven sighed. "You are not thinking clearly," he said slowly, as if speaking to a child. She felt her face burn in anger; first he makes a point to remind her that he is not her father, and then he speaks as if he were. "You are letting your relationship with Special Agent DiNozzo cloud your reasoning."
She opened her mouth to respond, but the thrilling of her cell phone stopped her. She glanced at the display and smiled slightly. "Speak of Satan," she murmured in English before answering. "Hello, Tony."
"Come home." She smiled at the two words and the emotion she could hear behind them. She wondered what he was doing calling; he had mentioned something when she called him that morning—the evening before, for him—about the OSU season opener. She hadn't thought anything would keep him from that game.
"I am working on it. I will see you soon, Tony. I love you." She hung up the phone before she could find herself involved in a longer conversation than she wished to have while standing in her new director's office.
Her movements to return her phone to her belt were slow and methodical, as they were when she pulled her Mossad credentials from her back pocket. "They do this in American movies. I admit, there is a certain dramatic flair to it." She pulled out the single card and harshly slapped it on the large desk. "If Mossad does not want me in America, I do not want to be in Mossad."
He stared at the piece of white plastic for a long moment. "You are acting hastily," he finally stated.
"Perhaps. Or perhaps I am doing what I should have done a long time ago."
He finally leaned forward, but didn't pick up her credentials. Instead, he slid it closer to her. "Take it," he said. "Someday, you may reconsider."
"And until then?" His lips pressed into a thin line before he responded.
"We will review the need for a liaison to NCIS semi-annually," he finally declared. "Your responsibilities will change. This agency does not care about sailors on unauthorized leave or felonious Marines. Expect to be spending more time in your MTAC than at crime scenes." He met her gaze full-on. "I must say, Officer David, that I am disappointed. Your father gave everything to Mossad."
She snatched up the card and stuffed it back in her pocket before turning away. "Why do you think I am not?" she asked bitingly. She didn't wait to be dismissed before striding confidently to the door. Before walking through it, she noticed the simple box sitting on the floor, instantly recognizing the things inside as belonging to her father. She didn't give Ruthven the satisfaction of turning back to look at him before bending down and lifting it into her arms. She made her way out of the inner office and past Sarah's desk without looking at anyone.
She had driven the Maserati to headquarters, and set the box on the trunk as she dug through her pocket for the key. A framed picture near the top caught her eye, and she picked it up, the key forgotten. She could still remember when it was taken; she had just arrived home on leave during her first year in the IDF, eighteen and recently promoted to rav turai, kneeling in the courtyard in front of her family's apartment in the olive drab uniform of an enlisted soldier, her weapon partially dissembled in her hands. Her father, also recently returned from a weekend of duty with the IDF, was also in uniform, his the gray of an officer, the rank of aluf mishneh on his shoulders, a similar weapon in a similar state in his hands. He had said something to her and she had looked up at him just as the picture was taken, both smiling at the words, and she was reminded of something Tony had said: Why is that we're only happy when we're working? That had been the case with her father; since she was ten, they seemed to only get along when there was a weapon or a mission involved.
No more, she thought resolutely. She was done allowing work to define her personal relationships. She had already taken the first step; now it was time to see if she could keep walking.
Shmuel Rubenstein was waiting at the ticket counter when Ziva arrived at Ben-Gurion to check in for her flight. "Didn't think you were escaping back to America without saying good-bye, did you?" he asked, almost teasingly. She couldn't help but smile as she accepted kisses to both of her cheeks.
"Thank you, Shmuel, for everything you have done," she said honestly when they separated. "And, I am sorry. I meant to congratulate you on finalizing Syshe's adoption, but it slipped my mind."
"You had other things to worry about," he said honestly. He pulled two envelopes out of his shoulder bag and stared at them for a minute before handing them over. "And speaking of which, your test results came in yesterday."
She froze, not knowing if she wanted to know, but finally decided that there was no point in having them done if she wasn't going to look at them. "What did you find?" she asked, her voice low.
"You're going to be fine, Ziva," he said, his eyes searching hers. "You're a carrier for APBD, but you won't have it. There is a full explanation of everything in there." He paused. "The second envelope is Tony's results."
"You tested Tony?" she asked. "When? Why?"
"The morning we left for Vienna. Because he asked me to. I did not tell him anything you told me not to say." He paused, then said, "Those are his results, Ziva. They're private. He can discuss them with you if he chooses, but it isn't your place to look."
She nodded. "Thank you, Shmuel." He smiled and nodded as well.
"Stay in touch, Ziva. You know where to find us."
"Yes." She gave him another kiss on the cheek before turning away and heading for security.
It was several hours later before she returned to the envelopes, the slight weight in her cargo pocket increased in her mind as she sat on the flight with nothing to do. She pulled the one with her name on it and turned it in her hands for a few minutes before tearing it open. She couldn't make much sense of the typed words and codes she saw there, but Shmuel's uneven Hebrew scrawl broke it down for her:
The 'N's are for normal, 'X's for abnormal genes. As you can see, you have one normal and one abnormal gene for APBD, meaning that you are a carrier. This means that if you marry someone with two normal genes, your children have a 50% chance of being carriers, but will not be affected. If you marry another carrier, there is a 25% chance of being affected, 50% chance of being a carrier, and 25% of being unaffected. Your glucosan levels were also low, indicating that you will likely never be affected with APBD, even a mild case. However, if you notice headaches, tremors, or the like later in life, I urge you to seek the attention of a neurologist and make sure they are aware of your family history.
All of your other genes were normal. You are not a carrier for any other genetic disease we tested for. However, this is not an exhaustive list, and there are still some other disorders that, if you have children, could affect them.
It was good to see you again, and I'm sorry it was under such unfortunate circumstances. Do not be a stranger. I know you no longer have close family in Israel, but you still have friends.
She read the letter three times, feeling the relief wash over her. She wasn't going to die like her father died, knowing he had a terminal illness and not wanting the world to know. Still, she couldn't help but wonder at the rest of the words, the ones that mentioned children and possible disorders they could have, and her attention shifted to the other envelope in her pocket.
As with hers, she stared at it for a long minute, but this time, debating the ethics of what she was about to do. Those results were private, she knew that, and accessing medical records without permission was a crime, one which could end her time at NCIS before it resumed. Despite knowing that, she couldn't help herself.
Like before, she was met with columns of acronyms and seemingly-nonsense letters, only this time, the explanation was in English, and still with just as poor handwriting. Her eyes skimmed over it, a smile building on her face, before she registered the second sheet of paper, this time in Hebrew. As she read it, her grin widened.
I figured you wouldn't be able to resist. As you can see, Tony is not a carrier for any disease tested, including APBD. Combined with your own results, this means the odds of any children you have with him being affected with APBD are too minimal to calculate. You may have noticed the extra lines on his results; with his family history of ovarian cancer in his mother at age 37, I also ran several cancer panels, all of which were negative. It looks like there is a distinct possibility that you may have him in your life for a long time. However, his cholesterol was slightly elevated, increasing his chances of heart disease. As I doubt convincing him to eliminate red meat from his diet will be possible, I suggest you encourage him to have a glass or two of red wine a day for cardio-protective purposes.
You are lucky to have someone who obviously cares for you so much in your life, Ziva. Do not be quick to turn him away.
Special Agent Tony DiNozzo glanced up at the familiar ping of the elevator doors and groaned, checking his watch. Oh-eight-hundred already? he asked himself in disbelief. It had been awhile since he had pulled an all-nighter on a case, but when trying to track a suspect literally around the globe, with all the time-zone differences that entailed, it had been necessary.
To his surprise, Special Agent Kim Tomblin didn't immediately sit at Ziva's desk—even though she had been there for almost three months, he couldn't stop thinking of it as Ziva's desk—but started gathering her stuff into a box. "Going somewhere, Tomblin?" he asked lightly. She glanced up and frowned slightly.
"Bahrain," she finally replied. "I'm joining Agent Burley's team out there. I have to report in two weeks."
His eyes narrowed. "Bahrain," he echoed flatly, trying to stop the sudden surge of jealousy. Why does she get to go to Bahrain? Of course, she was going as a field agent, not the Special Agent In Charge; he wanted Burley's position, not hers.
Not knowing what he was thinking, she nodded. "I knew the posting here was only temporary, and Bahrain was what I wanted anyway. I know aspects of the culture, I know Arabic, and I've worked with Agent Burley before. And now that Officer David is on her way back—"
"Wait. Stop." He frowned. "Ziva's on her way back?" He pulled out his phone to check to see if he missed any calls, but the screen was blank. "Probie," he called out as McGee stepped into view. "Did you know Ziva's on her way home?"
"Ziva's coming in today?" he asked blankly.
"No, Ziva is not 'coming in today'." DiNozzo spun in his chair at the sound of the familiar and teasing voice on the other side of the partition and grinned at who he saw there. "I am already here."
He wasted no time rising from his chair and making his way to where she stood, all but pushing her into the corner behind the stairs. As soon as they were out of view of the majority of the office, he tilted his head down and captured her lips. "Hi," he breathed when they separated. "You didn't call."
She grinned. "And miss that look on your face?" she asked teasingly before kissing him again.
"DiNozzo, David." They both grinned at the sharp tone of Gibbs' voice. "If you two don't stop playing grab-ass back there, I'm transferring you to weather stations on opposite sides of the equator."
Tony's smile widened; he didn't care what Gibbs threatened them with, it was good to have Ziva home. "Nothing says 'welcome back' like Gibbs in the morning," he commented wryly. She chuckled as they finally separated, right when Gibbs stepped into view.
"Good to have you back, David. DiNozzo, get her caught up on the case. McGee!" He again moved out of view, calling for an update from their junior field agent. Tony couldn't help but laugh before he returned his attention to the woman standing only a few inches from him.
"You coming over to my place tonight?" he asked a few seconds later. She nodded, and he narrowed his eyes at the teasing look on her face, wondering what she was up to.
"I think you would like to pick up your car first, though," she finally commented. She smiled at the confusion on his face before pulling a familiar key from her pocket and handing it to him. "It should be arriving at the port later today."
"Your father's Mustang," he said once he regained the ability to speak. She nodded and kissed him lightly.
"It is yours now. It was always yours." He found himself unable to look away from that small piece of metal, unable to find the words to thank her.
"I called half the car rental agencies in Europe, trying to find a 1965 Mustang to rent while we were in Austria," he finally said. "Closest I could find was a '67. Figured since nobody knew we were there, it would be okay for your father to drive it around a bit." He saw the look on her face, part puzzled and part touched. "It was supposed to come on Sunday. The day after he was killed."
She nodded. "Thank you for trying," she said honestly. "That would have meant a lot to him."
"I wish it could have gotten there sooner," he replied. "Your dad liked his cars, and to not be allowed to drive them… It wasn't fair."
"Life is not fair, Tony. Sometimes, we must make sacrifices." He wondered if there was something behind those words, but didn't get the opportunity to ask before she flipped some sort of internal Mossad switch, instantly getting down to business as she finally headed back toward their desks. "Tell me about this case, Tony. What do you need me to do?"
He grinned, allowing himself another moment to just enjoy being there and having her there before also getting back to business. It was good to be home.