“Leave us,” Eli ordered, looking to his two officers as he took a seat opposite his daughter.
“Sir, are you certain that leaving her alone is a good idea?” Liat asked confidently.
“Those were my orders, Liat. I do not believe that my daughter will try to cause me harm when there is no chance of escape without help, and I doubt help will be coming for her any time soon,” Eli said confidently.
The woman nodded before leaving the room with the other man behind her. All the way, she cursed lightly under her breath.
“What do you want?” Ziva asked her father as she tried to focus on the figure. “Do not try to dance around it.”
“You look well. American life has been good to you,” Eli said with a soft smile. “How are Agent Gibbs and your co-workers?”
She did not answer as she continued to focus on him, her vision slowly returning to her. “You have never been one for social conversation. Why should I share anything of my life with you now?”
“Because I am dieing, Ziva,” Eli sighed, unable to look at her.
“And you wish for my pity?” she asked coldly, crossing her arms. “I am surprised you have not died yet. Still does not explain why you kidnapped me and dragged me here against my will.”
“I brought you here against your will because I knew you would not come of your own accord,” he replied softly. “And I am not looking for your pity. I seek your forgiveness Ziva.”
She frowned as she looked at him. “There are dozens of other ways you could have tried to convince me. Such as contacting Director Vance and he would have convinced Gibbs to speak to me. Breaking federal laws, especially taking a Federal Agent won’t win you many sympathy points.”
“Do not take me for a fool Ziva, you and I both know that neither Leon nor Agent Gibbs would have convinced you to talk to me. And I also know that having Leon order you would force you to resign from NCIS, something that you would not wish to do,” Eli replied, his tone was still very calm. “This was the only way for us to ever be in the same room again and you know this.”
Ziva shook her head and turned away. “I do not know what you expect of me,” she said. “It is not like you have been the best role model of a parent.”
“I know,” he admitted honestly, “I could have been a better father. You got the best education, the best training, privileges that most Israeli children could only dream about. And you got them because of the Mossad and my service to my country. But what you didn’t get was a loving father. You got a Mossad handler instead. That is why I’m here now, trying to make amends.”
“There is a saying in America about old dogs and new tricks. How do I know this is not some new tactic you are trying on me. Why should I believe you after all that you had done? Not just me, but to my brother, my sister, my mother?” she asked, knowing that after her mother had left, he covertly had the area she was living bombed.
“Clearly you have never faced your own mortality, knowing that there is nothing you can do about it,” Eli replied. “This is not just some new tactic Ziva. This is me trying to build something between us before it is too late. I need to know that you will be cared for once I am gone. But mostly I need you to know that I am sorry, for so many things.” Tears began to pool in Eli David’s eyes for the first time since he was a child.
Ziva laughed. “I have not faced my mortality,” she repeated his words. “And Somalia was just a vacation? What do you want from me? You really cannot expect me to just forgive and forget everything because your lifestyle has finally caught up with you. How do you expect me to do that? Tell me.”
“Because if you do not, you may be next,” Eli replied, his tone was not what Ziva had expected. It was remorseful.
“How am I next?” she demanded, making her way closer to him suspiciously.
“Because you are my daughter, that is how,” he replied. “You must understand Ziva. I am not dieing from a disease, or from any natural occurring ailment. I was poisoned.”
It was a few hours before the Five-0 team was able to get their hands on information and the capabilities of learning more and actually acting on it. Kono had a difficult time tracking down the resources of the owners or renters down of a couple houses before one finally hit payday. “Guys? I think I found the house we want,” she said grinning as she exited from Danny’s office and using his phone.
“Where?” Steve said, his tone full of hope.
“It’ll take a bit to get to. There is a house on Kaua’i that was rented out with its current occupant for the last four days. The same day that we busted Ziva’s Mossad friends,” she said as she keyed up an aerial view of a large house high up on the island. “The house has a helipad for private transport.”
“Perfect,” Steve grinned. “Her captors are more vulnerable than they realise.”
“I’m trying to see if we can get real time footage but I doubt they dismissed everything. My money is them having some heavy weapons to make up for a lot of it,” Chin supplied.
“It’s not their defenses I’m worried about Chin, they’ve given us water and air access,” he explained. “That means they won’t see my surprise coming,” Steve replied as he checked his watch.
“What are you planning?” Danny asked suspiciously.
“I called on some old friends that owe Ziva a lot,” Steve replied cryptically. “Given that we’re going up against mercs, Mossad operatives and people who owe Eli David favors, we need the help. An HPD SWAT team won’t cover it this time.”
“Let me guess. You called in some SEAL buddies. Fun,” he sighed. “I’m so going to end up with a bullet in my ass after this one.”
“No you’re not,” Steve replied, clasping his friend’s shoulder. “The three of you can’t be involved in this one. It’s too dangerous.”
Danny crossed his arms stubbornly. “I don’t think so. I’m coming with you.”
“Danny, listen to me. Eli David is one dangerous son of a bitch. When you make an enemy out of him it never ends well,” Steve said, looking his friend in the eye. “This is a man that ordered the death of his son, left his daughter to die in Somalia and probably did a lot worse to the women who gave him those children. I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. You’re not going. I’m thinking of Grace too when I say this.”
He frowned as he looked back at his friend for a moment before giving in with a nod. “You’re going to be wired for communication with us at least, right?” he asked softly.
“Of course, you’ll hear everything that goes down,” Steve replied with a grateful smile. “Chin, I’ll need you to coordinate everything from here. Kono, I’ll need you to secure a couple of powerboats and make sure we have medical supplies on board.”
“On it,” she said as she turned to make her way out the door.
“Do you really think they’ll do something to her?” Danny asked. “Why take her to another island? Why not just take her all the way out and back to wherever?”
“I think he’ll eventually do that,” Steve replied. “When she’s willing to go or they’re able to do it undetected. Which means we have until nightfall.”
“It’s going to take at least two hours to get to that island from here by boat and they will see you a mile away by the air,” he pointed out. “And you would have to be on the opposite side of the moon for them to not see you on the water. That is one advantage they have from that house – the view.”
“Chin access the flight plan records for every helicopter planning to fly tonight. Flag up any that gets within a mile of the house,” Steve said as he began pacing the floor.
“Sure but if it flies out low enough, it’ll be off any radar and no one would even know,” he pointed out as he picked up the phone to call the local FAA office.
“I know the chopper will deviate from its intended route, I’m trying to narrow down the time frame. There can only be a handful of choppers heading anywhere close to the island. If we can narrow down Eli’s departure window, we’ll have a better chance at catching him too,” Steve explained, checking his watch again as he looked expectantly at the main door to their offices.
“What? Did you order Chinese food or something?” Danny asked, looking at the door pointedly before turning back to his partner. “What are you waiting for now? Why not just head out now?”
“Because if I go now, I’d probably end up dead,” he replied. “My back-up’s on the way.”
“Correction, your back-up’s here,” Sam Hanna smiled as he and six other men, all carrying their go-bags filed into the room. “Reporting as ordered LT. Sorry… Commander.”
“Guys, glad you could make it, all of you,” Steve said as he joined his gathering of friends and proceeded to hug them or shake their hands.
“Leave no man behind, remember,” Sam smiled. “You need us, we come. Now will you care to tell me why I had to call in a favour with Hetty to get us here?”
“You remember Ziva David from our mission in Vietnam?” Steve asked as he led the men through to the operations center.
“Do we remember Ziva? You’re kidding right?” Sam grinned, “She’s the first girl you ever looked twice at. Don’t tell me this has something to do with her and the Mossad.”
“Sort of,” he replied. “Her father, Eli David, director of the Mossad has kidnapped her and taken her to a secure location. I believe he intends to extract her from the country after nightfall.”
“And you need us to help rescue her,” one of the men said and nodded. “Say no more. We’re in. But does this mean that you two are-.”
“Yes Sam, we’re back together. She was vacationing here with me when the Director kidnapped her,” Steve explained, earning a few knowing smiles from his comrades.
“Wait a second, she’s working with NCIS now isn’t she?” Sam asked suddenly, frowning. “The DC office, under Jethro Gibbs?”
Chin and Danny had been watching the big burley men as they congregated and chatted amongst themselves with raised eyebrows. The two didn’t know what to make of the display and commented lightly about needing popcorn while they watched a live exhibit of Animal Planet.
“Yeah Sam, that’s why this needs to be off the books. Relations between the Mossad and the US can’t collapse now. As much as I want to nail Eli David to the wall for this, I can’t involve NCIS. So this has to remain between us,” Steve explained.
“Alright, I know Gibbs and his people would want to help, and if Director Vance found out what was going on, he’d want to stop us from doing anything,” Sam sighed. “We could’ve used some MTAC support on this though.”
“Is this the area we need to get into?” one of the SEALs asked as he eyed the screen. “We could boat in but swim around to under the cliff. I doubt they would expect us there.”
“That’s exactly why I called you guys in,” Steve said, “I’d like you to meet Chin Ho Kelly and Danny Williams. Chin will be coordinating everything from here. Danny will be driving boat one, Chin’s cousin Kono will drive boat two. Once we dive, they pull out until we’re ready for extraction.”
“Who will we be facing?” Sam asked.
“We’ve already encountered mercs from Russia and the United State, expect hostiles with middle-eastern combat training too. I don’t know numbers or what hardware they’ve got so be prepared. If anyone wants to walk now, you can. Nobody will think less of you,” Steve said as he looked to his friends.
When nobody moved, Sam looked around at the SEAL’s and asked, “Where do we gear up?”
“You can suit up as much as you can here. Otherwise most of it would be at the docks and on the boats on the way. You can leave whatever personals you brought with you in my office over there. It’ll be safe.”
“Will do,” the guys said in one way or another as they moved to prepare.
Ziva sat stiffly at the table staring at the assortment of foods spread across the surface but hadn’t touched a thing. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the words her father tried to feed her and while it had the possibility of being true, there was still something that she felt was wrong in what was said. That it wasn’t the whole story.
“Ziva, I know you must have a lot of questions, and I know that we are far from reconciled, but you must eat something,” Eli pleaded as he looked into his daughter’s eyes.
“I am not hungry,” she replied evenly as she turned away and looked out the window, hoping that Steve would show up already. That is if he figured out where she was at all.
“Very… very well,” Eli replied, the all too familiar wave of weakness washing over him once again. Placing his knife and fork down, he picked up the napkin and wiped his forehead with it. “Then at least ask me your questions. We cannot waste time.”
“Why are you really here?” Ziva asked immediately, turning to look at him angrily. “What in the world would make you think that I would even entertain this charade?”
“This is not a charade Ziva, I know that you have no reason to trust me and I do not blame you for that. But I am dieing from an incurable slow acting toxin,” he explained. “I have a month… two at the most.”
“We all die every day. I died in that room in Somalia. The Ziva you knew and created died there. I do not want to hear about your enemies finally finding a way to you finally. Why did you bring me here?” she hissed at him again.
“To warn you, to see that you are protected from harm, to say goodbye and to leave you with something other than bitter memories of me!” he finally snapped, throwing his napkin to the table.
She narrowed her eyes as she tried to read his expression and tone of his words. “You’ve warned me. I have plenty of friends to care for me when I cannot. I cannot help if you wish to be the father you never were now but that is of your own doing. Do not make me feel guilty over your choices in life. That is something I can decide for myself now. Something you’ve tried to take from me for most of my life.”
“I am not trying to guilt you Ziva! You must understand that I love you, I have always loved you. From the moment of your birth you have made me proud, not just because of your skills and achievements, but because of the woman you are!” Eli began to wheeze his words before rifling through his suit jacket pockets.
“You have a funny way of showing it,” she said, crossing her arms as she sat back in her chair in a heap.
Finding the pills that were prolonging his life even now, he swallowed one and drank down half a glass of water before he began to settle. “You do not realise do you? You do not see that my reasons for being here go far beyond our relationship. I wanted you to come to this conclusion on your own but I see now that we do not have time.”
“Just tell me,” she sighed, looking at him. “Do not make me play guessing games. It is beneath you.”
“Once I am gone, the position of Director will open up. And there is a possibility that my successor will not be so open to working alongside foreign agencies,” Eli replied bluntly, his sigh drawing out so long that the tail end became another wheeze.
“What does that have to do with me? I am not Mossad anymore. I have not been for a long time,” she pointed out.
“If relations between the Mossad and its foreign allies collapse, the world will suffer for it,” Eli stated. “That is one of the reasons I sent you to NCIS in the first place.”
Ziva looked at him in surprise and disbelief. Shaking her head, she turned to look back out the window over the water. “This is unbelievable,” she muttered. “You are not serious. What makes you think that I would be willing to take on such a responsibility? Why not ask one of your followers?”
“Because they are not you,” he said softly, his eyes not leaving hers. “I hate to admit it Ziva, but your experiences with NCIS, the training you received and the relationships you have forged have served you well. Do you think my friendship with Leon was just a coincidence?”
“And your assigning me to work anti-terrorism operations with Jenny?” she prompted.
“I wanted the best people for that assignment Ziva, I did not anticipate that working with her would lead you to where you are, much like I did not anticipate Ari bringing shame to this family,” he replied. “I should have. As I have said, I have made many mistakes in my life, but believing in you was not one of them.”
She stared back at him unsure of what to say but there was one thing she was confident in. “I don’t want to go back. For the first time in I do not know how long, I am happy. I never believed that I would feel as I have had in the last couple years and despite my work, I can sleep without fear of not waking up because my home is bombed by enemy missiles. I cannot go back to that.”
“I… understand,” he did not hide his disappointment and he couldn’t, even if he tried. His breathing became uneasy once again and the wheezing became a throaty cough which repeated several times before he finally got himself under control. “Will you at least consider my offer and the implications further?”
Ziva sighed as she looked at him. “I could, but my answer will not change. I just cannot go back to that life again. I am sorry,” she said softly for the first time in the entire time she awoke from the abduction. “It is not who I am anymore, nor who I wish to become.”
“Very well,” he nodded slowly. “Will you consider taking a short leave of absence from NCIS? I feel that there is much that we need to talk about, and I have very little time left…”
“I do not know. I could try but you had taken me from my vacation that I was enjoying so it may be difficult to request more time,” she pointed out. “And I doubt my friends would trust me to go alone if I were able to.”
“No, I doubt they would,” Eli sighed, his shoulders dropping. “Well, I must apologise again Ziva.”
“Please do not do that anymore. I understand the position you are in, yes. And I – accept your apologies but it does not change how I feel right now,” she said. “I may be selfish but I do not want to lose what I have now. What I’ve just gotten back.”
“No Ziva, you do not understand,” Eli sighed before looking over his shoulder at the door. “Liat.”
The Mossad officer re-entered the room, followed by several heavily armed mercenaries. Some of whom trained weapons on Ziva. “The helicopter is inbound Director, we will all be leaving in 15 minutes.”
“I am not leaving,” Ziva said simply.
“You will not have a choice,” Liat replied smugly before placing a finger against the earwig in her right ear. “What is it Koskov? Check the communications channel? What do you mean Tiegan is not responding? Well mobilize a patrol!”
Ziva glared at the woman with a small smile. A sense of knowing in her that her friends had found her. “Trouble?” she asked sweetly.
Liat ignored Ziva and looked to the two guards nearest to her. “You and you, stay with the Director. And watch her closely. Director, for your own safety you must remain in this room.”
Eli nodded as she left the room with the third merc in tow as the sound of unsuppressed gunfire could be heard outside.
“You will have to kill me if you wish to bring me back to Israel. I will not go willingly,” she said defiantly to her father. “I do suggest that you get in your helicopter as soon as it arrives and leave because I do not believe the people that have come for me are willing to leave anyone alive. This is your chance to escape.”
“Escape? Not when I came so close to bringing you home,” Eli shook his head the faint sound of a helicopter flying toward them could be heard. “No my dear, you will be coming back to Israel with me. You are coming home!”
She glared at him, taking in the two men. With her father’s apparently weakened state and the guards, she was confident that she would win in a fight. “You do not want to go that route. Trust me,” she said evenly, stepping back as she clenched her fist at her side.
Eli looked into his daughter’s eyes and he was about to give the order to knock her out and carry her to the helipad but he hesitated. She truly was better off without him. Her confidence around him was impressive. He slowly approached her and took her clenched fists into his hands. He knew that this was the last time that they would see each other, until the next life at least. “Goodbye Ziva…” he placed a soft kiss on her left cheek and stepped back. Reluctantly releasing her hands, he looked to the mercenaries. “Escort me to the helipad.”
She could feel the tears in her eyes and as much as a part of her wished to follow, the part of a daughter desperate to please her father, she remained still where she stood. Watching him try to leave through another door in the room, she let out a breath before making her way out onto the balcony where she sat in a chair after she found it difficult to remain on her legs. She could see the helicopter on the roof of another section of the house but turned away to look over the water.
As the SEAL team pressed forward, a trail of dead mercenaries behind them, Steve looked up and watched as the helicopter took off, heading south.
“Damn it, we’re too late!” Sam growled as he reached his friend.
“No… we’re not,” Steve replied as he pressed on, watching the last of the mercenaries retreat.
“How the hell do you know?” Sam asked. “She could be aboard the chopper right now!”
“We have to hope that she isn’t. Keep going,” he said, shooting another round at the men guarding the house.
Reaching the house, Steve entered without waiting for the others. Sam called after him but the only response he received was an increase in his former CO’s pace. “That boy’s in love,” he muttered as he watched Steve sprint up the stairs, two at a time.
Ziva could hear the gun fire growing closer but she did not move from where she sat. The two men that stayed behind on her father’s order were barking out comments to each other as they quickly left the room to help their friends. A foolish move she believed on their part, knowing that if it was indeed Steve on the offense, he would have blood in his eyes.
Sure enough, four gunshots rung out and the mercs footfalls grew silent. A moment later, Steve burst into the room, checking for additional hostiles. He was backed up by a face very familiar to Ziva.
McGarrett closed the distance between them quickly and wrapped his arms around her. “Are you okay?” he asked immediately.
“I am fine,” she said, tucking her face into his shoulder as she held onto him. “How did you know I was still here?”
“I felt it,” he replied honestly. “In my heart and my gut.”
She nodded with a tired smile. “Can we please get out of here? I do not want to stay in this place any longer than I need to,” she replied, anxious to leave.
“Consider it done,” Sam said with a smile, “It’s good to see you again Ziva.”
“You too,” she said as she held onto Steve’s arm while he helped her out. “Do not mind me. The chloroform they used and not eating has gotten to me. I could go for a nice long nap though when we get back.”
“I saw some energy bars in the supplies on the boat,” Sam smiled as he led them through the house. He pressed his finger against the wig in his left ear and said, “Speaking of… package is secure. I repeat, package is secure. All teams move to extraction points alpha and bravo.”
Steve didn’t buy her excuse for a moment, however. There was more to what went on during her kidnapping. But for now, she was safe and that was all that mattered.