Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS, the characters or their story lines – I have just temporarily borrowed them for my own (and your) entertainment…
A/N: So, I decided on trying another one-shot – using Semper Fidelis as my muse along with the preview for the season finale… Hope you like. If you do, please use some of your own words to leave a review. 'Cos I love them… And it gives me some clue whether I should go back to my day job or not…
Question of loyalty
He kept replaying the scene, like a movie in his head. Could he have done it differently? Would he have done it differently? Probably not. There really was no choice – his life or Rivkin's And if he had let Rivkin live – would Ziva have been safe?
Rivkin was a murderer – he had killed one of their agents, he had taken out the very same terrorist cell that he himself had set up. And, he was willing to kill Tony. Rivkin would have, had he not been prepared. He allowed himself a small, fleeting smile – the ninja taught him well.
Ziva – the look on her face when she walked in and saw him alive and Rivkin dead - said it all. If he ever needed confirmation as to how she felt, that was the defining moment. And now, he had lost everything that meant anything to him – Ziva, his family, his job. And, if Vance's directive was anything to go by, the least of his worries would be his position at NCIS. He sighed, turning back to the report in front of him.
It was late, very late, or very early. They would be leaving for Israel in a couple of hours. But he wanted, no needed, to get this report finished. He shifted in his chair and hissed, unbearable pain shooting through his shoulder. They had wanted to give him painkillers in the hospital, but he refused, knowing how goofed he got on them. And he needed a straight head to write this down.
He knew that the report could potentially put the final nail in his coffin, that the words he chose could be used against him. But he still couldn't help the emotion that poured onto the page, as he frantically did his staccato one-handed tap on the keyboard. Words that could potentially paint him as the bad guy, instead of the hero.
But Ziva's face kept flashing in front of his eyes, and he continued resolutely on. Perhaps, this act of selflessness would pay off. Or perhaps it was the guilt speaking. Not guilt for killing Rivkin – oh no – he had it coming. But the guilt for hurting the woman he had grown so accustomed too.
Had he just done to Ziva, what Ari had done to Gibbs, to him? Maybe, that is what killed him most about this whole sordid mess.
Her eyes were her best form of communication. He always knew what they were saying, even if her words contradicted them. Then she came through that door, moments after his shots were fired. Her eyes took in the scene, realization that Rivkin was dead and he wasn't reflected, and then her eyes fell on him. Dark, distant, shuttered, closed.
After Gibbs pulled her off Rivkin's body, she sat in the corner and he could see that he had lost her. If he had her. Now he was questioning even that. She didn't look up when the paramedics came in, checked him over or strapped him to the gurney and had taken him away. There wasn't even that under the lashes look she gave, when she pretended she wasn't watching and actually was.
Ironic really, had this been any other case, any other place, she would have been the one that demanded the paramedics take her with. She would have been the one that would rush into the emergency ward, intimidating nurses and doctors alike. She would have been the one with the unshed tears barely clinging to her eyelashes, threatening to escape down her cheeks. But, it was this case, and Abby was the one that filled Ziva's role. It was Abby that insisted on driving him home, when he refused to stay overnight for observation. And it was Abby who threatened him bodily, forcing him to go to bed, while she lay watching outside his bedroom door.
And because it was Abby, she had fallen asleep. He was able to step over her, and sneak out of his own home. And so, now he sat at his desk, trying his damndest to write this report.
"Is he okay?" It was the first time in hours that she had spoken.
She hadn't said a word when he pulled her off Rivkin's body as she knelt, trying to hold the jagged edges of his chest together as his lifeless blood pooled out around her knees. She sat stoically in the corner as Ducky did the examination and didn't even look up as Tony was wheeled out by the paramedics. Her eyes didn't flicker, when he grasped her by the tops of her arms, pulling her up and out of her home, taking her instead to the security of his own.
He had pushed her into the shower, fully clothed, and still covered in her lover's blood. And sat waiting patiently in the passageway as she slid down the shower wall, wrapped her arms around her knees and silently cried. When he could hear movement again, he quietly stood and walked down to his basement, knowing she would find him there.
Dressed in his gray NIS sweats – baggy and falling off her – she downed the shot of bourbon he offered her. She had wanted to go for a run, he knew without her even saying so. But he refused, knowing that if he let her go, she would start running and wouldn't stop. Instead, he handed her a piece of sandpaper and allowed her freedom of his prized boat.
And now, after several hours, she spoke…
"Is he okay?"
Gibbs hesitated for a moment, before answering: "No, he is not."
She lifted her head, and for a split second, he saw raw emotion flash there, before she masked it again. "I thought it was just his shoulder?"
Again Gibbs hesitated, this time for dramatic effect rather than concern. "Oh, his shoulder will be fine. It was a clean enough dislocation."
Again, that flicker of guarded emotion. "But, you said…"
"You asked if he is okay. And, no, he is not. He won't be okay for a long time."
"Good." Came her vehement reply. A response he expected when she was faced with a cold-blooded killer, a terrorist that had meet his come-uppance, but not with regards to Tony.
She took a deep breath and continued: "Perhaps now he will be more considerate when he shoots dead a Mossad officer."
Gibbs shook his head. It was not the time to correct her mangled English, or her absurd statement. She would realise in her own time.
They continued, in silence. The only sound the satisfying rasping of sandpaper. Does wood hold memories? He sure as hell hopes not. Because if it does, this damn boat will sink as soon as it hits the water, with all the sadness, anger and frustration that had been sanded into it, since he started building.
Ziva herself had been here on more than one occasion. At least this time she had avoided taking her knife to his craftsmanship. Although, if she had - he would have felt better. She would have responded more, well, Ziva-like. This person, he didn't quite know how to deal with. He wasn't sure what had affected her more, Rivkin's death or Tony's involvement?
She knew better than anyone, that every reaction has a consequence – even more so when the director of Mossad is involved.
She had been forced to choose once before and she had chosen NCIS over family. And that was before she had any loyalties to them. But now, who would she side with? Where do her loyalties lie? And if forced to, which family would she ultimately choose. A week ago, he could have answered that question with certainty, but now? He wasn't so sure.
Lost in his own musings, he hadn't noticed that the bourbon had done its job. Ziva had fallen asleep under the hull of the boat.
He sighed, pulled out an old blanket and covered her. He wouldn't be sleeping tonight, but it was best that she did. She would need her strength for the next few days. He would wait till morning to tell her what Tony already knew – that they were headed to Israel.
As she so rightly stated, you cannot shoot a Mossad agent without repercussion. Even if the shoot is clean and justified - at least in his own mind.
He sat, pouring himself another drink, watching her sleep. He put his head to his hands. What had he done, to Ziva, to Tony, to the team? He was as much to blame as his senior agent for the events of the evening. He knew what he was doing when he asked Tony to follow Rivkin. He knew how Tony felt. He knew that potentially Rivkin would die and hell, if he were honest with himself, he expected it. He couldn't be guiltier if he pulled the trigger himself.
But he didn't and Tony did. Now they had been ordered to Israel. It could go one of two ways – neither of which he relished. But, what were his choices?