Warnings: None

Spoilers: Through the end of Season 9

Disclaimers: The usual

Notes: One Saturday, each year

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop the story." ~Orson Welles

Saturday, July 2, 2005. Tel Aviv.

It was time to formulate a plan. She picked up the girl, the one who could not be more than two-years-old, the one who was not supposed to be here, and held her to her chest. She had her orders- to leave no survivors. They were orders she never questioned upon entering a den of terrorists...until she encountered this little surprise tucked away in a back room. She did not doubt what was expected of her, but she knew she would not deliver.

The bloody knife went back into its holster.

She held the crying baby close, closed her eyes and mentally reviewed the mission's dossier. She pulled up every piece of paperwork in her mind until she found the one with a list of addresses. This child had grandparents, and now Ziva remembered where they lived.

"Ana asefa," she apologized to the little girl in Arabic. There was only one way out of this building, and it was back the way she came. She did her best to hide the baby's eyes while carefully maneuvering her way around the bodies of the men she had killed only moments earlier. She did her best, and she found herself hoping that counted for something.

By the time they made it out into the black, sticky night, the girl had progressed from crying to wailing. Ziva once again reached back into her memory, this time plucking an old lullaby from its recesses. She hummed it to the child who, quite fairly, could not be comforted. No matter, they were only two blocks from the get-away car.

Once they reached the car, Ziva found herself bemoaning the lack of a safety seat. She laughed at the absurdity of her concern. As if riding one mile without a carseat was the most significant danger this child had faced tonight. She laughed, and then she started to shake.

She had to formulate a plan. Because her time on this Earth was no doubt coming to an end.

It wasn't just this child. It was also her brother. Her dead, traitorous brother. That she had killed. Only, her father did not know that. Or maybe he did. He had ordered her to do it, and she had followed those orders. Only, she hadn't meant to. She had meant to save him, escape with him. Because she had believed in him. But she was wrong, and her father was right. Or maybe he was wrong too; maybe he had turned her brother into a traitor.

What would he do to her?

Nothing, because she was his child. Like Ari was his child. Like this girl in her lap was someone's child. She had tried to save them, Ari and this girl. Her father did not forget. He certainly did not forgive.

What would he do to her?

For following his orders, but not on purpose...if he even knew the truth, which of course he did, because he had his ways, and he always knew. He always knew. She glanced at the little girl. Tonight she was sparing a life he would have wanted her to end. She was defying him, and he did not tolerate defiance. He granted no special dispensation to little girls.

He would not do it directly. No one would be given orders. He would be more subtle. He would send her into a situation from which she could not escape. He would have her die, rather than have her killed.

She flashed back to just over a month ago in D.C. Those men had lost a member of their team. They had loved her, and they mourned her. They had sought revenge.

Ziva worked with a team too. She knew without a doubt that they would not mourn her. She knew that there would be no one wanting revenge.

She knew that no one had her back. She knew that she had only herself.

She was driving so much more slowly, so much more carefully than she usually did, out of consideration for the little girl who continued to wail. Ana asefa.They were the only words she had to offer.

She reached her destination and the child was deposited at the gate. She would not go unnoticed, this screaming child. Her grandparents would hear, and they would come for her soon. Ana asefa.

Ziva drove away, abandoning all caution. She made the call, reported the successful completion of her task. She hung up when asked why she had taken so long.

What would he do to her?

She had prided herself on her stoicism. She could quietly bear any loss. She did not fear death.

But in the oppressive heat of this July night, when the sky was dark and the animals and people too listless to produce any sound, she felt like the only person in the entire world. And since she was alone, she could confess that she was tired of losing. She could admit that she was not ready to die.

So she had to formulate a plan.

The men in D.C. had cared about their team member. Jen. She had a friend, one with influence. She looked at the clock- 11:15 PM. It was only 5:15 in D.C. She doubted the Americans worked on the weekend, but Jen would take her call. Quickly, she put together two arguments- one for her friend, the other for her father. He would not be able to refuse her, not if he wanted to be subtle.

Time. On this Saturday, she knew how to purchase it.

TBC