Chapter Seven

Tony's mind was reeling as he made his way out to his Mustang. He'd only found out recently that Ziva had had his daughter as a result of their one night together, but not only that, she had lied to Michael, her (gag) boyfriend, and said the girl was his. Was this messed up or what? Then again, he was seriously reminded of that song that had been on the radio yesterday . . .

Snap out of it.

Shaking his head to clear it, Tony opened the driver's side door of his Mustang and slid inside. He turned on the radio, searching for Frank Sinatra, while he pulled away from the curb and drove, not sure at the moment where he wanted to go. There wasn't any Sinatra on, but one song did catch his interest.

". . . Oh, how could I have known
That all my life I only needed you

Ooh almost paradise
We're knocking on heaven's door
Almost paradise
How could we ask for more . . ."

Immediately Tony recognized it as one of the hits from Footloose. Not one of his favorite movies, but it had some great songs. In this case, one point did strike home: How could either of them had known what would happen after they'd come together? Newsflash: they didn't. Oh, joy, he thought sarcastically.

...

Michael Rivkin whirled and slammed his fist against the wall of his hotel room. Anger bubbled up inside him. How could Ziva have betrayed him like that? She wouldn't have intentionally done anything, right?

Wrong.

He'd always felt that Agent DiNozzo was jealous of his relationship with Ziva. Why else would he warn him away from her? And the Mossad officer had always sensed an underlying tension between them. . . .

Insert several Hebrew curse words here.

He needed something to calm down. Maybe a drink would do the trick. Yes . . . Grabbing the keys for the rental, he headed out and made for a bar he was relatively familiar with.

Although it was mid-afternoon, the inside of the bar was dark, strobe lights flashing. Music was playing over the sound system, and Rivkin froze as he caught some of the lyrics, straining his ears to make them out over the noise.

". . . I said please please understand I'm in love with another man . . ."

Already he was having second thoughts about this. When the bartender, however, asked him what he wanted to drink, he ordered a beer.

He'd only taken a few sips before he left, moving back to his room. Slowly, he could feel his anger returning. She'd lied to him about where she'd been that night, who the father of her daughter was, everything. If she pushed him any further, well, she'd be the one who was hurt.

...

Abby bounced along in excitement, McGee on her seven. "Ohmigod, McGee, can you believe it? I'm really excited for them. I mean, it was so obvious they would eventually cave in and—"

"Abby—" Tim started.

She ignored him and prattled on. "Their daughter is just so cute! Do you think she looks more like Tony or Ziva? I personally—"

"ABBY!" Elf Lord yelled.

She stopped skipping and talking and looked at him. "What?"

"Did you miss the fact that Ziva was dating someone else at the time?"

"I don't see what that has to do with— Oh . . . Rivkin is gonna be sooo mad."

"Not to mention Gibbs."

"Good point. They did break Rule Twelve."

"So did we," Tim reminded her. "And besides, there was never any indication they were dating."

"Since it was probably just a one-night thing, I guess they did find a loophole," Abby conceded. She started skipping again. "Come on, McGee! I need a Caf-Pow."

The computer geek sighed and followed her. When one was with Abby, you never knew what you would get yourself into.

...

Gibbs released his surrogate daughter and looked her over, trying to assess how she was feeling. Stressed, a little upset, and . . . helpless? Not something he'd usually associate with Ziva. Then again, she'd gone through so much ever since she'd become the Mossad liaison with NCIS. She'd replaced Kate, been kidnapped and tortured in Africa, and now, recently . . . well, the former Marine didn't want to put that into words. He remembered thinking, months ago, it was time for her and Tony to break Rule Twelve, but he'd never thought this would come of it. She would pull through, though. Ziva always did. Abby was perfectly okay with it, Tony would deal—as would McGee—and Gibbs . . . he wasn't real happy with her, but he'd support her. Everyone on the team would. And then there was Rivkin. . . .

He'd told the Mossad officer to leave; even said Ziva David had worked for him and was therefore off limits. Tony had even warned him away, Gibbs knew. But would the arrogant Israeli listen? Noooo, and now Ziva, Tony, and Rivkin were caught up in a deadly triangle.

"Gibbs?" Ziva's soft voice pulled him back to the present.

"Yes?"

"What am I going to do? I know I want to return to NCIS, but Tony and Michael . . ."

"Hey." His hands grabbed her shoulders firmly, forcing her to look him in the eye. "Did I not say it was going to be all right? It will be, Ziva. Just give it time. You'll get used to it." His lips lifted in a wry smile. "And besides, my word is law. Not even the Fates can change destiny without my say-so."

She laughed weakly. "You're right, Gibbs. Thanks. I needed that."

"I know." He sipped his coffee and glanced at Sarah, still sound asleep. "She looks a lot like you, but has her father's eyes. Did you know that?"

Ziva shifted her weight, suddenly looking uncomfortable once more. "Yes. I knew."

"Ziva, why?"

She met his gaze squarely. "I don't know myself, Gibbs. Who knows why any of us do what we do?"

Very good point, he thought. And he didn't have an answer for her question.

...

Everything was going fine a few weeks—or maybe it was a month?—later. Ziva had settled into the routine of rising early to care for her daughter, go to work (sometimes taking Sarah with her) and head back home, even if she sometimes had to work extra hours. The team was being supportive, and Tony, though he was scared of kids, seemed to be doing his best at helping Ziva and his offspring. Rivkin had faded into the background; apparently he was back on the L.A. case.

Then, one night, everything changed.

Tony drove over to Ziva's apartment, hoping to see her, maybe spend time with her, and talk to her about a recent case. However, when the apartment door opened, Michael was standing there, not Ziva. "You're here," Tony said cooly.

"And Ziva is not," the Mossad officer replied. "She'll be back soon. You're welcome to come in and wait for her." He stepped back, gesturing inside with an outstretched arm. Then he turned and walked across the room. Tony, after a heartbeat's hesitation, stepped inside, staying in the doorway.

"Did you really expect me to leave her because you threatened me?" Michael asked, his back to the senior field agent. He took a drink from a glass he held in his hand.

"I had my hopes," Tony said, shutting the door shut behind him.

Rivkin set the drink down and raised his head, a odd expression on his face. "They include you coming here late at night, finding Ziva in an emotional state. You help her pick up the pieces?" There was a hint of scornful laughter in his voice. Glancing down, he sipped from the glass in his hand.

"I'm here about a case," DiNozzo said. "An American agent was killed last night. All the evidence points to a terrorist named Abin Tabal. I think you're familiar with him."

Rivkin took a final drink and turned around, eyes hard. Tony continued, "Of course, he killed himself before we could catch up to him."

"Is that it?"

"That's the theory." There was a hint of humorless laughter in Tony's voice as he added, "It's a little too clean for me."

"It does not sound clean at all," Michael said.

DiNozzo moved closer to the other man.

The Mossad officer continued, "Sounds like the further you dig, the messier it gets."

Tony kept moving forward, the predator in his movements. "Well, what can I say? The events of the past year have made me a little suspicious." Of what, he didn't say.

"Even to the people closest to you?"

"Oh, especially them." DiNozzo smirked. "We pulled information from Tabal's computer. Says that at some point, the Internet was connected here. Ziva's account."

Rivkin smiled slightly and raised an eyebrow as he said, "She is tied to this dead man? Was obviously duplicitous. The department must have mishandled information."

"That appears to be the shape of things," Tony said. Now he was right in the other man's face.

"You're here to question Ziva all because of a series of numbers found on a terrorist's computer?"

"I was. Until you opened the door." Michael took another drink. "As soon as you're done with your drink, Michael, you're under arrest for the murders of Abin Tabal and Federal Agent Tom Shermer."

Rivkin smiled slightly. "Good luck with that."

DiNozzo brought up a pair of handcuffs that flashed silver as they caught light and his gun. Immediately the Mossad officer lashed out, striking them away, and grabbing Tony by the shoulders, sent both of them flipping over the couch and landing on the floor. Their weight cracked a picture frame on a nearby table.

Outside, Ziva had just pulled up and exited her car. She made it a few steps before looking up at the window that was her apartment. Two shadowy forms were outlined black against the yellow light and she made out the shape of Michael and Tony. Muffled yells were coming from inside.

Back inside, the two men were on their feet. Rivkin landed a couple of punches in DiNozzo's gut. Somehow, the senior field agent managed to grab him around the torso and lift him off his feet. In the resulting moments that followed, Tony broke free, busted Michael's nose by swinging the door in his face, and tried to make a break for it. Rivkin snagged his arm and torqued it, breaking it. Tony let out a yell of pain, but silenced it as Michael put him in a choke hold, trying to kill him. Fear shot through the former cop, but he somehow slammed both of them up against a brick wall, trying to loosen Rivkin's killing hold. That only made him grip on tighter. Fighting for his life, DiNozzo brought up his other fist and punched Michael in the jaw. The two of them fell and landed on a glass table, crushing it with their weight.

Finally the pressure on his throat ceased. Tony rolled away from the fallen officer, who had a large sliver of glass in his side. He crawled for his gun, which was lying on the floor, his left arm dangling uselessly and bent at a funny angle. "Enough," he said loudly.

Michael was too maddened by rage to hear him. Standing upright, he slowly extracted the glass sliver from his side. Tony cried, "Don't do it!" The pain must have been excruciating, but Rivkin had been drinking and now, the look on his face was murderous.

"No." The senior agent's voice was horse and he watched in terror as the Mossad officer, weapon held out, advanced on him. His hand closed around his SIG and, taking aim at Michael's shoulder and chest, fired three times. Rivkin fell to the floor, body limp.

Then the door burst open and Ziva entered, gun drawn. Reacting on instinct, DiNozzo aimed his weapon at her. He lowered it when she took in the scene before her, face closed, tense and withdrawn. Rivkin was critically injured and her former lover . . .

Oh, God. What just happened? Where's Sarah? But the look in Tony's green eyes scared her even more. They were haunted, horrified. She could tell he hadn't wanted to shoot but had been forced to. Even so, her voice was taut and angry as she said, "What just happened?" She suddenly remembered the answer to her own question: her daughter was staying with Gibbs for the night.

"I'm not entirely sure right now," Tony panted, his breaths coming in short, harsh gasps.

Concerned, Ziva crossed the room and crouched at his side. "You're injured."

"So is he." He jerked his head at Rivkin's motionless body. "It was self-defense, Ziva. He tried to stab me with a piece of glass. I got in a few good blows, if I do say so myself."

"Tony, we have to get both of you to a hospital." She was reaching for her cell phone as she spoke.

He extended his unbroken hand and rested it on her arm. "Ziva, I don't think he can be saved. I got him three times in the chest. I don't see how he can be alive."

"You still need to be checked out, at least," she insisted.

She could see it when he relented. "All right, but can you drive me? And where's Sarah? This noise would have woken her up, and I didn't hear anything."

"She's with Gibbs. Now, come on." The beautiful Israeli draped his unbroken arm across her shoulder and rose slowly. "Can you stand?"

He didn't answer her; just set his feet on the floor and took a few steps when he was sure his weight was being supported. Together, they slowly made their way to Ziva's red Mini Cooper, the very car she'd picked him up in that rainy night so long ago. Making sure Tony was in a comfortable position, she pulled away, turning on the radio so they'd have something to listen to on the drive over. She had to be confident that, as Gibbs said, everything would be all right.

". . . It seems like perfect love's so hard to find
I'd almost given up
You must have read my mind

And all these dreams I saved for a rainy day
They're finally coming true
I'll share them all with you
'Cause now we hold the future in our hands

Ooh almost paradise
We're knockin' on heaven's door
Almost paradise
How could we ask for more?
I swear that I can see forever in your eyes
Paradise

And in your arms salvation's not so far away
It's getting closer
Closer every day

Ooh almost paradise
We're knocking on heaven's door
Almost paradise
How could we ask for more
I swear that I can see forever in your eyes
Paradise
Paradise
Paradise"

Glancing over at Tony, she knew he identified with the song, too and she saw her own emotions reflected there. Yes, everything would be just fine.

Otherwise they'd have the wrath of Gibbs to deal with, and no one wanted that to happen.

Not even the tough as nails ninja assassin.


Thisis complete. Kudos if you know the other song I used in this chapter. I already named the movie it was in, and I think the few verses I had gave it away. :) And it took me forever to look up the part of "Semper Fidelis" I wanted to see, so the fight scene in here is the one in the episode, in case you hadn't guessed that already.

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Thanks for everyone who's read/reviewed/alerted/favorited this story. It meas a lot.

~~ Brambleshadow