I planned on posting this as a preface to my new story, but after the fantastic Gibbs & Ziva scenes we had tonight, I thought it could stand alone as yet another tribute to the wonderful father/daughter relationship these two have.
I never liked where Eli and Ziva left things in Enemies Domestic; I think it was too cutesy...too much forgiveness, too fast. This is closer to how I see their initial encounter going. There are many clear similarities to EF/ED, but the outcome is decidedly different.
Takes place around Nov/Dec 2009 (season 7).
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, but if I did, I wouldn't have changed a damn thing about Safe Harbor.
She paused outside the conference room, her hand on the doorknob. She had to take a few deep, steadying breaths before she found herself able to turn it.
He sat in a plush leather chair, leaning back as he perused the Jerusalem Post. A simple glance over the top of his glasses sparked a wave of memories in her; the piercing and intrusive stare just as she remembered. He folded the paper, leaning forward slightly to rest his interlaced fingers on the desk.
"Ziva," Eli said simply, with a nod of his head. Still standing in the doorway, she closed the door behind her and took a few strong steps forward, clasping her hands behind her back.
"I came to check if you need anything?" She inquired in a professionally cool voice, meeting his eyes. He continued to stare, giving her a once over as he stood and moved toward her.
"You look well," he raised his hands as if expecting her to step into them but quickly lowered them again at her tensing posture. "A bit skinny perhaps," he critiqued, crossing his arms and leaning against the desk.
Her eyes flashed at him. "Still regaining weight," she answered coldly and he nodded once.
"So this is how it shall be, eh, Zivela?" He sighed, eliciting a hiss from Ziva at the childhood nickname.
"What did you expect?" She growled, her hands balling into fists against her back. "That I would fall into your arms and offer up my forgiveness?"
"I do not ask for it," he countered with a shrug of his shoulders.
"YOU SHOULD!" She yelled, then snapped her mouth shut. She had promised herself she would keep her emotions in check.
Eli sighed again, removing his glasses and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Ziva what do you want me to say?" Her blood boiled at the voice he used, as if she were a petulant child refusing to do her studies. "You knew the risks when you took the mission. You knew what would happen if you got caught."
"So in your mind that justifies leaving me there?" She asked incredulously. "Did it ever occur to you to try and rescue me?"
"I cannot, as the Director, show preferential treatment. Were it anyone else, my actions would have been the same."
"But I am not just anyone," she countered, trying not to show how those words stung her. "I am your daughter! I am all that's left of your family…"
"I owe my allegiance to country before family!" He answered harshly. She took a step back as if his words had been a physical slap. He stared her down, angry, and Ziva silently cursed the still-wounded side of her that cowered away from his wrath.
"Well that certainly clarifies things," She whispered.
"Why you should look betrayed...My priorities have always been clear to you before. Besides, you are alive and well and living out your life here on your terms now." He shrugged, as if this settled the matter and everything in the past was irrelevant.
"You are correct there, I should have expected no more," She said softly, turning away, feeling the sudden need to escape.
"You are happy, yes Ziva?" He asked in a suddenly quiet voice. She hesitated at the door, her hand once more resting on the knob. She spoke with her back to him.
"My happiness is no longer your concern."
The door clicked softly shut behind her.
Tony had been watching for her for the past ten minutes. He knew where she would go as soon as Gibbs surreptitiously announced that Director David was waiting in the conference room while they secured his car. Throughout Eli's entire visit to DC and his meetings with Director Vance, Ziva had steadfastly avoided his presence, but he could see how she struggled with it. He had watched the tension radiate through her shoulders and then simply nodded when she slipped away under pretense of using the bathroom. Gibbs had watched her go out the corner of his eye as well and shot a glance at Tony. With a look that clearly said take care of her when she gets back, he went to check on the progress of the car.
When Ziva did turn the corner, Tony was still not prepared for what he saw. Her walk was rigid and tightly wound, her fists clenching and unclenching seemingly of their own volition. She did not meet their eyes, but simply grabbed her bag from beneath her desk, cramming a few items into it as if they had done her great personal insult.
"Tell Gibbs I have gone home for the day," She said in a clipped voice, slinging the bag across her shoulder. "Tell him I…" She paused, meeting his gaze briefly. Her eyes were watery, but also angry, and he did not know which of the dozen emotions flickering across her face would break through first. "Tell him something, yes?" She finished, and he gave her a simple nod. She practically ran to the stairwell, bursting through the door as it swung slowly closed behind her.
"That didn't look good," came McGee's voice, as they both stared at the spot where she had disappeared. "Should we go after her?"
Before Tony could answer, Gibbs appeared at the elevator. He gave a nod of his head to McGee to go and collect Eli and then paused in front of Ziva's desk, staring at the empty space for a moment before looking at Tony for answers.
"She just hightailed it out of here boss," He sighed, coming around to stand in front of Gibbs. "It didn't look like her…talk…went well."
Gibbs felt a bubble of anger in his gut and fought to keep his composure. It didn't help that McGee rounded the corner with the Israeli a few moments later.
Eli met Gibbs' stare with haughty impatience. "I am able to leave now, yes?" He grumbled, fussing with the coat on his arm.
"You couldn't have just given her a little bit of closure, could you Eli?" Gibbs growled, getting close to the man's face. "Couldn't offer her some words of remorse or contrition?"
"You have no right to lecture me…"
"I have every right to do just that," Gibbs said, voice rising. "WE went in there, WE pulled her out and brought her back! WE are the only family she has left."
"You are not her father!" Eli shouted indignantly, shifting closer into Gibbs' face.
Gibbs grabbed the man by the shirt and slammed him into the filing cabinet. Tony and McGee exchanged a quick look, but did nothing to stop him.
"You're damn right I'm not her father," Gibbs growled quietly, menace laced in every word. "Her father left her bound and broken in that hellhole." He shoved Eli once more, then released him. "But make NO mistake; we are her family."
The Israeli looked tempted to take a swing at Gibbs, but his eyes flicked to the other two men flanking him, and he huffed, straightening his shirt. Without another word, he stalked off towards the elevators, Tony following closely behind after exchanging a silent look with the others.
"You are late," came a voice out of the darkness as Gibbs descended the stairs. He flicked on a light in the basement and saw Ziva sitting on the unfinished planks of his latest boat, twirling an empty bottle in her hands. "And you are out of bourbon."
"Hmph," he said with a shrug of his shoulders, crouching down to a cabinet and fishing behind a few old paint cans. "Coulda sworn it was half full when I left…" He reemerged with a full bottle and grabbed another jar, dumping out its washers and screws. He took the empty glass from her hand and filled it, then poured himself some. She stared down at the amber liquid for a long moment before downing it in one sip, pulling a face at the fresh burn down her throat.
"I'm late because I stopped by your place looking for you. Tony tried the pub and McGee was driving through the park where you go running." He said conversationally.
"I went for a run as soon as I left work," she shrugged, twirling the glass in her hand again. They sat in silence for several long moments, Gibbs patiently waiting for her to speak.
"He is gone?" She asked finally, attempting an off-handed tone and not looking up from her hands.
"Plane took off two hours ago," Gibbs answered, and she gave a small shudder, shaking her head slightly and holding her jar up to him. He stared at her for a long moment until she finally met his gaze, her eyes flashing anger.
"Are you going to lecture me on getting wasted on a work night?" She asked bitterly.
He shrugged. "Nope, your decision if that's what you want to do," he said simply, pouring her another drink.
"My decision," she scoffed, staring at the glass, at nothing. "It was always my decision. That way, when everything went to hell, he had his absolution…his peace in knowing he did not force my hand…"
"Do you really believe that?" he asked, leaning beside her.
"He said as much today. That what happened was to be expected and accepted. That I should move on and stop looking to place blame…"
"Well, if you make your own decisions, then I don't think he gets to dictate how you choose to heal…" Gibbs said reasonably, and this elicited a very small, very sad smile from her as she turned her gaze back to him.
"You see my dilemma. He speaks from both sides of his tongue and always has." Gibbs ignored her slight slip in cliché and remained silent, waiting for her to continue.
"And that there, also makes him correct," she sighed, rubbing a hand over her face. "He has not changed, not altered, not feigned any affection or emotion in the past. Who my father is, he has always been. And so he is right; I have no reason to be hurt or even surprised that he would leave me to die. It is exactly what I should have expected…" Her voice caught and she gave a little choked sob. Gibbs took the glass from her, setting it down and taking her hand. She looked up at him with welling eyes, pleading for answers. "Then why does it still sting, Gibbs?"
He reached up and brushed away the first tear that broke through her façade.
"Because, Ziver, he is first and foremost your father…"
At this her face crumpled, slowly, but once it started she could not stop it. The weight of Gibbs' words, the error in his simple and honest reasoning crashed down on her. Her father's words - Allegiance to country before family - echoed painfully in her ears. A sob ripped its way up her throat, and she felt his arms wrap comfortingly around her.
"No," she choked out, her head falling to Gibbs' shoulder as he held her close, rocking her gently back and forth. "No, he is not…"
I had no idea that this was the title of an upcoming episode; how serendipitous! :)
Please check out my new story, The Ties that Bind, which builds upon the David family relationship that starts here. Thanks for reading and leave a note if you liked it, hated it or anything in between!