Thank you so much to my reviewers. Just 4 out of 338 hits...as we say in Italy, "just a few, but good!" :) I'm happy you enjoyed this first part abd you found both Gibbs and Ducky in character. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the story too...
An hour later Gibbs drove his Challenger into his driveway, frowning when he noticed Ziva's red car parked near his garage.
What was she doing there at that hour? He just hoped whatever it was won't turn to be a major emergency. He was tired and longed for a good night of sleep.
He walked toward his house and saw the Israeli sitting on the porch steps.
"Ziva," he said in greeting, "what are you doing here?"
"Waiting for you, Gibbs. I need to talk with you, if you have time."
She sounded very serious, so he pursed his lips and nodded. "Sure." Then, seeing she wasn't standing, he sat down at her side. "So, what do you want to talk me about? Something wrong?"
"Not really—just very difficult to say," Ziva replied, shifting her weight on the wooden step.
"No. Family related. Do you remember when you asked me why I had to return to Israel for a week last month?"
Gibbs nodded, "Yeah. You told me it was a family matter that your father wanted to see you."
"He wanted to see me all right, and the reason was my son had just been hurt," she said, looking straight at him.
His eyes widened in surprise, "Your son? You have a son?" he asked, not bothering to cover his stupor.
Ziva had never mentioned it before—but now that he thought again, he remembered the strange look in her eyes the time he had told her that the difference between her and Yoon Dawson, a North Korean spy, was that Yoon had a little girl, while Ziva didn't have a child. He also remembered the conversation they had the previous year, when an infant had gone missing.
"You want to have children, Ziva?"
"It's a simple question."
"I do not have a simple answer."
"Yes, I have," Ziva's voice brought him back to the present. "His name is Binyamin Eitan—the Hebrew version of Benjamin Ethan – David, but I call him Ben. He is eleven."
Gibbs shook his head and smiled gently at the love and pride he had heard in her voice. "I never suspected you might be a mother. You're good at keeping secrets."
She nodded with one of her tiny, secretive smiles, "When I moved here three years ago, I thought it would best if I kept it for myself, since Ben didn't come with me and I didn't wish to explain to everyone why my boy wasn't here with me."
"And why he isn't here?" he asked, as he idly thought she had to have been very young when she had her son.
Ziva took a moment before answering, and when she did, her voice was tinged with pain. "Ben hasn't had an easy childhood. When he was just a baby, he was victim of a terrorist attack while he was at the market with my sister Tali. She died, and my son was seriously wounded in his legs. For a time the doctors feared they would have to amputate his limbs, but blessedly Ben responded to the cures and his legs could be saved. However, he limps when he walks and you can imagine how hard it can be for a boy not to be able to run or kick a ball as all the other children do."
Gibbs nodded, understanding her pain. He remembered how full of energy Kelly had been and how tiring even for a trained Marine, to keep up with her when they went on vacation. He couldn't imagine how hard it would have been if his little angel had been unable to run or jump up and down.
"Despite that, Ben is a happy, serene, well-adapted child, with a lot of friends. He is a computer genius, you know? I bet he could give McGee a run for his money…" Ziva smiled and Gibbs grinned back.
"Sounds like he's a brave young man."
"He is. He always makes me so proud," she smiled again, and then sobered. "I only want what is best for him, and this was why I did not wish to take him away from Tel Aviv, where he lived with my mother. I did not want to take him away from his friends and the only life he has known so far…"
"But? 'Cause I feel there is one coming."
"But last month something has happened to make me change my mind. He fell down the stairs when one of his legs gave out, and he broke his wrist. Nothing major, I know, but the fear I felt during my flight to Tel Aviv, when it looked like Ben had hit his head too, made me realize I cannot keep on living so far away from him. So I have decided to bring him to America with me, because I want him to live with me, but also because I want to have him to be checked by a famous orthopaedist here in DC. Also Ben loves America, and he has wanted to come here for years. Among the other things, he wants to go to school here, then he wants to attend the MIT when he is old enough and then go to work for Microsoft…"
Gibbs snorted, amused. "It seems he has his life already planned out!"
"Yes…and it would be far easier for him to realize his dreams if his American father would recognize Ben as his son. Ben would have dual citizenship and would not risk being sent back to Israel should my position with NCIS be terminated another time."
Ah, thought Gibbs, here it is, the reason of this conversation.
"He doesn't want to recognize him?" he asked.
Ziva grimaced as she answered. "The situation is far more complex. His father doesn't know he has a son. More, I strongly doubt he even remembers the night Ben was conceived. I have seen him quite a lot since my arrival in the US, and he has never given any hint he recognized me. So, well, it isn't that easy to find a way to tell him he has a son…"
Gibbs was very surprised. Ziva was like a bulldozer, she stopped in front of nothing and she could even be annoying with her persistence. So why was she so reticent now?
"Is he married?"
"Some top brass in Capitol Hill? Are you afraid of a scandal?"
"Then what, Ziva? I can't help you if I don't know the facts," he replied with a bit of exasperation. He had never liked riddles and this night was wearing on him.
"Right. Listen; let me tell you a story, Gibbs. Then, hopefully, you will understand why the situation is so complex."
Gibbs nodded, "Okay. Go on, I'm listening."
Ziva shifted her position on the steps, to that she was now looking toward the street and began. "Just after my eighteenth birthday, my father assigned me my first mission for Mossad. I was sent to Beirut to work as a waitress in a bar where, according to our sources, Hezbollah terrorists met. My task was to record the conversations, snap photos, and to learn the patterns of the meetings. Unfortunately, one of our sources turned out to be a traitor with a grudge against my father and he sold me to the terrorists. I was discovered and captured, and would have been killed if a costumer, an American, hadn't stepped inside the bar and asked for bourbon. Killing an American wasn't a good idea, so one of the terrorists went to serve him his drink while the other dragged me into the back of the shop and gagged me before tying me tied me to a bed. I can only speculate about what happened next. Perhaps they decided to have some fun at mine and the American's expenses before they killed me; perhaps they were just perverts. Whatever the case, they spiked the American's drink with a potent aphrodisiac, and then led him into the room where I was."
Gibbs paled. That story was far too familiar to be just a coincidence—and even if it was, he didn't believe in coincidences. He turned his head to look at Ziva, but couldn't make out her features in the darkness of the porch.
"What…happened?" he managed to ask, the need to know overwhelming.
"The American came over me. He stretched atop of me and I could feel he was so hard it had to be painful for him. His pupils were so dilated the irises where no longer visible, he was sweaty, flushed, and his breath was hurried. He looked out of his mind with need and I knew he would rip my clothes and take me. But then…something happened. He looked straight into my eyes and something in him changed. His fevered look went away as clarity returned in his eyes. Moving very quickly, he managed to subdue the two terrorists. Then he freed me and together we escaped the bar. I led him to a nearby hotel which I knew to be safe, we rented a room and I used the phone to call for back up."
Gibbs raised his eyes to the sky, and whispered a brief thank you. Ducky had been right. He hadn't raped the girl—he hadn't raped Ziva. He had saved her instead. A grin appeared on his lips but whatever he wanted to say was stopped by her next words.
"When I was done, I turned to face my saviour and I saw his condition had deteriorated. He was lying on the bed, flushed, breathing hurriedly and was sweating so profusely it looked like he had just washed his hair. But what really shocked me were the tears streaming down his cheeks… He was in pain… suffering badly… and I couldn't bear it." Ziva's voice faltered for the first time since she had started her tale, and Gibbs had to fight the desire to put a supporting hand on her shoulder. "He-he had saved my life. Instead of fucking me as those bastards had planned and as his body screamed to him to do, he had fought against his need and saved me. And he was still fighting his urges, gripping the headboard to tightly I was afraid he would break the wood. So…"
"So?" Gibbs urged, with a strangled voice he barely recognized as his own.
"So I did the only thing I could do. I undressed both of us and gave him what he so desperately needed." Ziva swallowed hard, and used the heel of her hand to brush away a few tears. "It was the most intense and emotionally draining night of my life."
"Did- did he hurt you?" Gibbs asked, not minding how weird it was to refer to himself in third person.
"No more than I hurt him, only bruises, some scratches, some soreness. Only what usually happens when two people have passionate sex."
Gibbs nodded, relieved and with the strange need to head-slap himself for having berated himself for so long for something that had never happened.
"What happened next?" he asked when he had his emotions again under control. He knew that Ziva was aware he was that man, but he wasn't ready to admit he too remembered that night, at least not until she said aloud she knew who he was.
"During the night, my Mossad control officer came to extract me from Beirut. I wanted to make sure the American was fine, but I wasn't allowed. A few hours later I was out of Lebanon and back in Israel. I was safe…and pregnant, although, of course I didn't know back then." Ziva changed position on the steps and turned to face him, her eyes filled with an emotion he couldn't recognize. "I kept my child because aborting or giving him away was never an option- and I never forgot his father's eyes." She smiled briefly. "You cannot imagine my shock when, years later, while compiling a dossier on a NCIS agent for my brother, I saw those eyes stare back at me from your photo. You are that man, Gibbs…Jethro. You are Ben's father."
Gibbs was shocked, completely and utterly shocked. He felt like he had taken a blow to the solar plexus and found difficult to breath. His head was spinning and his heart was pounding so hard in his chest he was almost afraid it would jump out of it.
He had a son. With Ziva. He and Ziva had a boy.
It was incredible. Unconceivable. Fantastic. Scary. Overwhelming. Amazing.
He was a father again.
"Are you all right?" Ziva asked, hesitantly touching his arm.
"I-I don't know… You've just shaken my world and I don't know if it will ever stop rocking… As you guessed, I've no memories of most of that night. I just remember feeling … unwell… then the room in the back of the bar and the girl tied there. Up to tonight, I've always thought I had ended up raping her… raping you. Now … now you tell me I didn't, but that we still had sex together and that a child resulted from it … My child. It sounds so incredible that it was you … and me … and that we've a son…" he shook his head, trying to clear his confused thoughts.
"I know it sounds incredible, but it is not," she said softly, gently squeezing his arm. "Would it help if I showed you a picture of Ben? Would it make it more credible?"
Gibbs nodded eagerly, watching anxiously as Ziva retrieved a photo from her purse and gave it to him.
He found himself staring at the image of a boy with short, spiky brown hair, shining blue eyes full of mischief and a toothy grin that made him think of Kelly.
"He's beautiful…" Gibbs whispered, studying every detail of the photo.
"Yes, he is. He is beautiful, intelligent, smart, brave, stubborn and a lover of sail boats and fast cars. And… he is also very proud of his father and eager to meet him," Ziva added, almost hesitatingly.
Gibbs' head whipped up, "He knows about me? You told him?"
Ziva nodded, "Yes. I told him the day I had the absolute certainty you were his father … my saviour in Beirut."
He tilted his head, curious, "How?"
"Remember when Sharif called you telling you had been poised with BZ gas?"
"Well, Ducky took blood samples for testing and after he was done, before he could dispose of them, I …ahem… sneaked down in Autopsy and took one for a paternity test."
"In my heart, I have always known it was you, Gibbs…Jethro. That is why I was so eager to come to work with you, but I needed proof. For Ben. I could not risk disappointing him if it turned out I had been mistaken."
"I understand," he really did. He would have done the same in Ziva's place. "But that was almost two years ago…Why didn't you tell me sooner?"
"Because I could never find a way to introduce the topic. Every time I told myself it was the moment to approach you, something happened. You were with Colonel Mann, I was worried about Tony's strange behaviour, we were all put under investigation regarding La Grenouille's murder, Jenny was killed, I was sent back home…" her voice trailed off as she made a gesture with her hands to underscore her frustration.
"And what about this evening?" Gibbs asked.
Ziva shrugged, "I decided that I could not keep waiting for the right moment to arrive, and that I had to make it happen. This evening it's the twelfth anniversary of Ben's conception and I thought it was a good time to tell you."
He nodded, understanding.
Silence fell over them as Gibbs returned to study Ben's photo, running his fingertip over his child's nose, cheekbones and chin.
My son, he thought, feeling his heart swell with the same mix of awe, pride and wonder he had felt the day he had held Kelly in his arms for the first time.
A child, conceived during what he had thought had been the most shameful night of his life but instead it had just become one of the most important.
A boy who needed a father and not just to make him an American citizen.
A father that was rapidly discovering that his previously closed off heart had still so much to give.
A second chance to raise a young life, hoping to do as a good job as his Dad did with him.
"Can I-" Gibbs' voice broke and he tried again, "Can I meet him?"
"You want to?" Ziva asked a mix of anxiety and hope on her face.
"Yes, very much so."
"Excellent," she replied with a cheeky grin, "because Ben is inside your house, waiting for you."
Gibbs' mouth opened in surprise as he turned around. Sure enough the lights in the living room were now on, and he caught a glimpse of a brown-haired head and curious blue eyes looking at him from the window. Had Ben been watching them all along? Probably yes, if he was anything like his mother—and him.
Ziva stood up and he did the same. Near the door, she stopped with a hand on the knob, to reach to him with her other arm.
He took her offered hand as she asked, "Ready?"
"Ready," Gibbs replied with a slight nod, his voice not betraying his emotions, as Ziva turned the knob and pushed the door open….
The End...for now. This is part one of a trilogy about Gibbs and his son (and the other NCIS characters, of course!)- and while it will involve Ziva too, it won't become a Zibbs. Next story: "Promise Made." To be posted soon.
A/N: when I wrote this story (summer 2009), I based Ziva's age on Cote De Pablo's real age. Cote was born in 1979, making her 18 in 1997.
Then, a screenshot of the of the application forms Ziva hands to Gibbs in "The Insider Man", showed a printed 1982 and I guess it's her birth date. However, rewriting this story to set it in 2000 would have been impossible, because at that time Gibbs was in Moscow, married with Stephanie, and working with Callen etc.
So I've decided to stick with making Ziva eighteen in 1997 and make this even more AU it already was...:)