Disclaimer: I own nothing
Warnings/Spoilers: Up to 8x15
Summary: After returning the Belgravian brat to her father, Ziva contemplates her own father.
Ziva David sat in the driver's seat of her red Mini Cooper in the dark NCIS carpark. She rested her head on the headrest and let out a deep sigh. She ran her hands over her face and through her mop of dark hair, not caring how out of place it became. Her eyes briefly closed. She swore in a language that was neither her native Hebrew nor the confusing version of English native to her adoptive homeland.
She had become the type of agent she had never wanted to be. The emotional one. The one who blurted out personal things not to manipulate the witness or suspect into revealing hidden truths but to comfort a bratty twenty-four-year-old, who in the end organized her own kidnapping, yet with whom Ziva had felt some sort of camaraderie.
She and the Belgravian brat Adriana shared only two things. Both of them had not been born in the US but had spent the previous six years in America, albeit under completely different circumstances and for completely different reasons. They both, too, had similar fathers. Both Adriana's and Ziva's fathers' first love was their country and not their family.
Still Ziva tried to make sense of what she had said to Adriana. She had spoken openly about her bastard of a father Eli, and how his priorities were skewed. His first duty was to Israel. The country that had welcomed his Holocaust survivor parents, the country he and his two brothers had been born in, a country he had served long before he was a teenager dressed in his olive shield with an Uzi slung over his back. Israel was a country Eli had vowed to protect once it became the land his children danced across.
But Israel's protector-in-chief was not as pure as the white-gold sands of Haifa's beaches. Eli's soul was splattered with the scarlet blood of the lives he had taken. Slowly, perhaps even unbeknownst to him, the darkness in his soul had become obvious on the outside. In a tragic twist of faith, and maybe even ironically, his desire to protect his family and the country that had given him so much had cost him his family. He had been unable to stop Rivka from driving off to Haifa with her two sleeping daughters in the back of the beat-up car. He had been unable to save Ari from the dark voice in his head and the sorrow in the world around him that had made him cross the line between good and bad. Most tragically, Eli had been unable to save his youngest daughter from a terrorist bomb, on a bus destined for a peace rally.
Adriana was much more fortunate with her father. He had forgiven her, despite her planning her own kidnapping for reasons that included both money and politics. Adriana had gotten an awkward hug, with her father acknowledging the fact that he was glad she was still alive and safe. Apologies had been offered by both father and daughter.
An idea crossed Ziva's tired mind, an idea that surprised her; she almost dismissed the idea as soon as it was fully formed but instead decided to go with it. She would call Eli. The pair had never been close, not since the day Ziva realised that the world was not in black-and-white and that Eli's line of work meant he was in the grey zone of morality and ethics. Their relationship had been a series of peaks and valleys since Ziva was about eight. The peaks had always been mere hills but the valleys very deep.
Finally, after too many years and Eli's first leave of absence from Israel in twelve years, they had reached common ground, though their new relationship was more a homage to the one they had had when Ziva was a child than anything new. Ziva had already filled the vacant Daddy figure role with Gibbs; Eli had become a recurring character.
Currently their relationship included infrequent emails. Ziva sent photos of what was happening in her life; the previous Christmas she had sent a photo of her covered in snow and standing beside a sign showing her skiing destination. Ray had been absent from the photo and had not been mentioned at all in the email. Ziva still had a niggling feeling of doubt about trusting Eli, so her emails never named friends whom Eli could do background checks on and possibly hurt. Eli's reply came almost three weeks later; it had said nothing about his personal life, because the man did not have one. He had seemed pleased that she was happy and had sent an attachment of an old photo of Ziva and Tali one Hanukah.
In the next two emails sent since then, Ziva had received four more photos, all of them from when she was a child. It became apparent to her that he was living in the past. She often wondered if Eli ever sat alone in his empty penthouse apartment staring at old photographs from long ago, wondering if life could have been different if he had been more present in his children's lives.
Ziva picked up her cell phone and in doing so noticed the time; she had been sitting in her car for twenty minutes thinking about things, and had not moved. She looked up at the rear view mirror and saw one of the men from Linguistics, who had seemed very smitten by her at a Christmas party some years ago, look into the back of her car with lecherous expression. Years ago she had seen his crude sexual advances as entertaining, but now they scared her; flashbacks of Saleem's grimy-faced men and dirty hands echoed in her brain, distracting her from the task at hand. In that aspect of her life, too, she was different. She had changed a lot in her six years in America. She showed the lecherous guy from Linguistics her middle finger and he disappeared into the dark night. She reminded herself of the original task and hovered her finger above 'E' on her cell phone contact list.
She had three numbers for her father. Work, home and cell phone. All three were listed one after the other on her contact list. She knew that there was no point in dialling the number for Eli's home, as despite the ridiculously early morning hour that it was in Israel as she sat, she knew he would not be home. Eli seldom visited his empty shell of a home. The tiny penthouse was hardly home; just an empty shell with his crap in it. Ziva considered calling his cell phone, but she knew her father probably had no idea where the tiny thing had gone. Eli rather disliked cell phones and had a habit of throwing them at walls when he was annoyed by either the technology or by the person on the other end.
She hovered over the last number, her father's work number. Even though she had not been inside the Mossad building for nearly two years, she could picture Eli as she sat in her car; she could see him firing off dangerous orders to eager and willing Mossad officers, who had some idea of the danger of their orders, but who chose to ignore them.
Ziva pressed the green call button on her cell phone. It was only as she waited for the dial tone that she wondered what she would speak to him about. She waited for the dial tone and for Eli's voice. The dial tone continued for a few more seconds,and then there was beep.
"You have reached-" Eli's answering machine said in a cold robotic voice.
Ziva hung did not need to hear the robotic fake voice of his answering machine message; Eli had not changed it in years. She closed her flip phone. Disappointment, an emotion hardly unfamiliar to her in matters to do with her father, stung her. She bit her lip, surprised as tears pricked her eyelids; she held them back. She swore again in another foreign language. Then she put her keys into the ignition and drove off at a speed just over the speed limit.
She did not go to her small home west of the Navy Yard; she instead went to a small two- storey house a twenty-minute drive from NCIS. She stood outside Gibbs' wooden front door. She was again nervous about what was beyond the door. She twisted the handle and opened the door, which was unlocked, with ease; just like always.
She walked down the creaky wooden stairs, finding herself feeling strangely conscious of every single step as the creaking echoed in the basement. She reached the bottom of the stairs. Gibbs turned around, a jar of amber bourbon in his hand and a small soft smile on his face. He grabbed a glass jar from the counter to his side and poured her some. She took a sip. He grabbed a sander. A smile crossed her olive features and she briefly wondered why she had tried to call Eli in the first place.
Gibbs nodded, and they silently sanded his latest project. Nothing needed to be said because it was all known. Ziva was safe and loved.
A/N: Thank you Anonymous033 for being an awesome beta. Reviews are welcomed and like always will be replied to but maybe a bit late, I'm kind of busy.