Rating: Still T.
Summary: Ziva confronts her father.
An: This is officially the end of the road for this one folks. Please still review, they keep me motivated for the next one that's coming down the road (mostly done even!). Eli is a bit hard to write, I think because we haven't actually seen much of him, just implied stuff mostly. Which is why he doesn't do a ton of talking, but I hope you enjoy the result!
THANK YOU for all the wonderful reviews/alerts to this story from the bottom of my heart. They make me so happy to see in my email box, they put a big ol smile on my face. I have to admit, this is now one of my favorites. I think because I tend to do more…action-y fics and this one is more emotional.
Chapter Three – 6 Gun Quota
Touch can convey many things. It is necessary for survival – an infant denied human contact will fail to thrive. It can convey affection, interest in another person or even love. It can provide comfort to those who are hurting - physically and emotionally.
Touch can bring much pleasure.
And equal pain.
"Ziva, dear, if you do not want your lip to swell, you must leave the ice pack on it," the older man admonished her.
Muttering in Hebrew, Ziva placed the pack to her split lip, hissing at the contact. Lying on her back on one of Ducky's autopsy tables Ziva wondered how she had allowed herself to get as injured as she was. A long sigh escaped her lips and she shifted to relive some of the pain on her ribs, earning her another lecture.
"And if you do not wish to have a rather ugly scar on your side, you must hold still. Stitches that don't leave scars are not my specialty. You should have gone to the ER, Ziva."
"I tried to tell her that," Tony finally piped up from her right and she sent him a scathing look before turning back to the doctor.
"Scars are the least of my worries, Ducky. As you can see I already have plenty."
"Not the point, Ziva," her partner muttered and again she gave him a look. "What? You're the one that went off all half cocked on the AWOL Mossad agent."
An exasperated noise came from her. "She was going to get away!"
"That doesn't mean you ignore protocol and follow her into an abandoned warehouse without backup!"
"I called." Now her voice was a little quieter. Ziva knew she had hopelessly broken protocol, but at the time hadn't cared.
"You called after you followed her downtown, not when you spotted her in Arlington! There wasn't enough time to get backup there before you two started World War Three."
"I captured her!"
"Yeah, and you got a split lip, two cracked ribs, stitches and too many bruises to count as a consolation prize!"
Both of their voices had risen during the conversation and a staring match ensued, which was broken by Ducky placing a bandage on the newly stitched wound and announcing, "You are all set my dear. I'll let you two…discuss."
As he stood to leave Ziva stopped him with a hand on his arm. "Thank you, Doctor."
He patted her shoulder gently. "Take the motrin every six hours, if the pain gets unmanageable or you start to feel dizzy or vomit go to the ER, no arguments."
Taking a moment to stare up at the autopsy light Ziva considered her options before quickly settling on one and attempting to sit up. Unfortunately, her cracked ribs had other ideas and as she started to sit pain coursed through her side and she fell right back to the table, allowing frustration to show.
Suddenly a hand was held out to her and she took it, allowing Tony to assist her in righting herself on the table and she turned toward him, her legs dangling between them. Silence reigned for several seconds as she stared fascinated at his blue striped tie.
"I apologize, it was…inadvisable to go after her by myself," she said without looking up.
Warm fingers touched the bottom of her chin, tilting her head up. "You scared the hell out of me, Ziva. You've been acting reckless since your father showed up."
"I did not mean to." She swallowed thickly and the hand that had been on her chin moved down her neck to rest gently on her shoulder. "I wanted him gone, Tony. And the fastest way to achieve that was to catch her."
His other hand moved slowly up to her face, fingertips skimming the skin where the worst of the bruising was; over her left temple, cheekbone and jaw. Finally his fingers came to a rest on her jaw, thumb hovering over the split part of her lip.
"And if she killed you?" he asked and pulled the hand on her face back, leaving the one resting on her shoulder.
"She did not." Her protest sounded weak, even to her.
"But she could have and dammit Ziva, would it have been worth it?"
She looked at him curiously. "That is it?"
Shrugging he smiled. "I get it, I do. It's been a rough – and long – three days. And while I don't approve of the method, I sure am thrilled with the result."
Giving him a tired smile, she finally gave into the exhaustion that had been lingering for three days and leaned forward as he stepped toward her – placing his legs on either side of hers – and rested her forehead on his chest, closing her eyes. What she wouldn't give for a warm bed and two days to sleep.
Stepping closer to her, he sat her up somewhat, allowing her upper body to rest fully against him, her arms tucked between them, and placed his hands on her back, slowly rubbing up and down across the tight muscles. They had been going nearly non-stop in an effort to locate the Mossad operative, sleeping when they could between leads – usually at their desks. It hadn't helped that Eli David had felt compelled to stay as close to the investigation as possible, pushing all of their buttons – but Ziva's especially.
Until the time Tony received Ziva's frantic call that she had located their target, he was confident the tension between his partner and her father would boil over into an international incident. Since then the elder David had been suspiciously quiet, almost as though he had expected them to fail and was speechless at their success. Tony wasn't even sure he knew how badly injured his daughter was, she had disappeared quickly into the morgue to be tended to by Ducky before his arrival.
She let out a low moan as he hit a particularly tight spot and concentrated his actions there. If any good had come from her father's unexpected visit it was that she and Tony had grown intensely closer in a short time period. They had always been close, especially after Africa, but there had been a subtle shift in their relationship since he had made the 'contents…priceless' comment to her. It was almost as if they were allowed to acknowledge the feelings they had held so close for so long.
Since the arrival of Eli David and her breakdown in the bathroom, Tony had been quick with a subtle touch to her arm or back when others were around to let her know he was there. During the brief moments they were left alone he would invade her personal space, asking if she was alright, holding her hand loosely, or wrapping her up in his arms when it got really bad; she knew her partner could sense when she was close to losing it.
When he stopped rubbing her back - pulling his hands away - she let out a noise of disappointment into his chest.
"Come on," he said into her hair. "Let's get out of here. I don't know about you, but I could use some sleep."
Smiling inside she nodded silently and moved to get off the table, letting loose a string of swear words as pain shot across her left side. Suddenly she doubted the decision not to go to the hospital.
Concern was etched on his face as she came to stand in front of him. "Maybe we should take you to Bethesda…"
As she opened her mouth to resist the idea, she heard the doors behind her open and felt Tony instantly tense, a hard look on his face. Only one person could cause that reaction and she slowly turned around, coming face to face with Eli.
"Director," she said coldly and started to walk around the table she had previously been lying on, intent on leaving, Tony close behind.
"Ziva," the older man said softly and she stopped in front of him, but out of arms reach. Tony watched as the Mossad Director looked over his daughter carefully before speaking again. "Are you all right?"
"I am fine," she stated simply and Tony knew that tone, he had heard it many times before when she clearly was not fine but wouldn't admit it.
Eli gave Tony a brief glance before addressing his daughter. "Can we have a moment alone?"
"Anything you want to say to me can be said in front of my partner," she said and crossed her arms across her chest loosely, clearly closed off from the conversation.
"I do not think Agent DiNozzo…" he started in Hebrew, effectively leaving Tony out of the conversation.
She responded quickly in English. "I do not care what you think Director. I would like to go home, so if there is nothing further…"
A look of resignation mixed with irritation crossed the older man's face as he responded in English. "Fine, Ziva. I know that you do not want anything to do with me, but I would like to at least be able to have a civil conversation with you."
"Perhaps you should have thought about that a year and a half ago," she practically spat at him.
Now her voice was dangerous and Tony could feel the anger starting to rise up and he moved to her side. "Do not call me that, you lost that right when you left me to die in the desert."
The Director visibly bristled. "You knew the risks when you accepted the mission, Ziva."
"Yes I did and foolishly I went. But you knew I survived the Damocles sinking and did not even attempt to retrieve me."
Eli shook his head. "We searched for signs of you, but no one could confirm you were alive after reaching the camp, Ziva."
"Spare me, Father. When my body did not turn up you had to suspect I was a captive." The expression on her father's face confirmed her suspicion.
"Come now Ziva, you know rescue was not an option."
"You mean you did not want it to be. Have enough respect to admit that I was damaged goods to you. After Rivkin, then the Damocles and finally Salim, I was no longer a suitable Mossad agent, was I? I am certain your reputation took a hit when your only child was unable to complete her first mission back, it was better to just…leave me for dead. An agent who died in the line of duty was far more advantageous for you."
Tony stared at her in disbelief; did she honesty think her father had made a strategic decision to abandon her? The look on the Mossad Directors face told him all he needed to know.
Ziva was right on target; and Tony immediately felt sick to his stomach.
Finally the stoic mask returned to Eli's face and he spoke in an angry tone, "Such accusations should be kept to yourself, Agent."
"It is fact."
Anger flared in his eyes. "I am still your father, Ziva..."
"NO! You are no father and you never were. It was always Mossad first, and there never seemed time for family. We were…tools to be used for the cause. At least Ari and I were; sometimes I think Tali was the lucky one."
Tony watched the Director flinch at the mention of his long dead son and daughter.
"Did you even think about what would happen in Somalia? Did you?" She could hear the hard edge to her voice, but couldn't contain it any longer; this was the man who had left her.
"You were trained for those kinds of situations," he stated simply.
Ziva was unsurprised by his response, Eli could justify any action if he tried hard enough and her substantial training was an easy enough excuse for him.
"Of course, I did not give up any information; I was trained too well for that, Father. But did you consider they would not kill me after realizing this? That they would hold me and do unspeakable things?"
The Mossad director backed away subtly, clearly stung by his daughters words, but she advanced, closing the distance, anger flowing freely now. "Salim was…creative with his torture, I will give him that. But he was also vicious and unrelenting. I was denied sleep, food, light, comfort, treated like an animal…" Now her voice wavered, physical and emotional exhaustion taking over, and again she felt tears burning behind her eyes but held them back. Under no uncertain terms would she cry in front of Eli. "Beaten, strangled, whipped, raped. And the only person…people…willing to avenge my death was the ones you had convinced me not to trust."
Now he older man looked stung, clearly he had not expected such an outburst.
"You are nothing to me, my father is dead. Do not attempt to contact me. Ever."
With that she walked to the doors, and as they swished open she turned back. "Goodbye, Eli."
Tony followed her through the doors and to the stairwell, where she stopped at the first turn up to the main floor, scratching her right ear as she turned in small circles, clearly trying to work off the anger.
Instead of speaking, Tony stood to the side, allowing her to calm down. And eventually she stopped moving and looked at him, something akin to relief in her eyes.
"Feel better?" he finally asked with a smile.
"You have no idea."
"Yeah, probably not..."
Letting out a sigh she gave him a long look. "Take me home?"
"Best offer I've had all day," he responded and followed her up to the empty squadroom where they collected their things and made a quick exit.
"Stay with me?" She asked unsurely as they stepped into the NCIS parking garage.
"I retract my last statement…" he joked before turning to her with a serious expression. "Are you sure?"
A small smile graced her face. "Sleep only, Tony."
A small nod then he guided her to his car.
An hour later they were curled up in her bed, Tony curved around her back protectively, one arm wrapped around her waist, his forehead resting lightly on her shoulder, breath warming her skin. It was the most relaxed she had been in days.
"Thank you," she whispered into the dark, certain her partner was sleeping.
Until a light kiss was dropped on the exposed skin next to her tank top strap and an equally quiet "Always, yafa sheli" was whispered back.
Now the tears she tried to contain where not of anger or pain, but of joy and it wasn't long after that Ziva drifted into sleep, content at last.
Yafa sheli = my beautiful one
Bat = daughter
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