It was early morning when Eyal's car pulled in Sharon's driveway. Getting out first to open her door, he stated
"Sharon, this evening, well night… was just what I needed to clear my mind, thanks!"
"You're welcome, must admit it was special and the Blood moon made it spectacular. Would you like to come in for coffee? We could get a head start on MI-6's intel. By the way, thanks for having my back with Shaun. He's a safe asset, but can sometimes be difficult to handle."
"If an asset of mine would demand I give him/her particular favors for intel, I'd write that asset off. Wouldn't care how useful he/she is. Sharon, he was out of line."
"Eyal, you stepped in between me and Shaun without waiting to see what I had in store for him. I've dealt with his demands before. I usually only need to mention 'Daddy Robert' and he cuts the sexual innuendos. But now, I'll just need to bring up my Israeli friend to get the same results. You ruffed him up somewhat bad, you always that gung-ho?
Putting his arm around her waist, he answered "What can I say, I've been trained to act and ask questions later!"
"I'll keep that in mind! You coming in?"
Eyal smiled, cradle her face with his hand, and said in a deep and husky voice
"If I come in, it won't be for reading intel. Look, I'm struggling with myself at the moment plus we are expected at NCIS at 0700! Let's just call it a night. Can I take a rain check?"
Sharon just looked in his eyes as he continued "From your dreamy expression, Mrs. Welby, you are way ahead of me! Did you hear any of what I said?"
She rolled her eyes at him, "I heard and regretfully have to agree. Eyal… it's a rain check! Funny, I'm only expected at NCIS at 1300, somebody is getting special treatment!"
He drew her near and whispered "At this time, don't care, I'm with you and not in mission mode. I'll be looking forward to our next meeting, Mrs. Welby."
They were caught up in lingering lip kiss, when they heard,
"You two thinking of coming in or you prefer waiting till our neighbors call the cops for witnessing an indecent exposure?"
Sharon and Eyal jumped,
"MP, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be at your father's."
"Mom, the twins couldn't stop crying. Needed to get an early start this morning so decided to return to my own bed!"
"Oh! Eyal this is my daughter, Marie-Pier. MP, this is Eyal Lavin…"
MP interrupted "A very good looking boyfriend. It took you long enough! Well done Mom!"
Sharon face went blank and she heard Eyal's nervous laughter. She reasoned with her daughter,
"MP, get back inside and shut the door… please."
Eyal looked at the door, then Sharon, "Twins?"
"Not mine, but the reason I left hubby!"
"Oups… sorry. Sharon, I need to ask; MP was carrying, is she…"
Sharon shot Eyal a sly smile, "Like mother, like daughter! You should really read the file Mossad has on me!"
Eyal gave Sharon a peck kiss and whispered "I'm intrigued… think I will!" and he was off.
Arriving very early in NCIS's navy yard, Eyal was met by Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
"Officer Eyal Lavin?"
"I'm Special Agent Jethro Gibbs, team commander for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Seems we are going to be working together."
"Yes. My boss, instructed me to report to you. NCIS and CIA ask for a lecture on my past experiences. Got to admit lectures are not my specialty, especially when I don't have a clue of the subject matter!"
Shooting Gibbs a side glance, Eyal continued,
"I've been at this long enough to know when I'm being played!"
Gibbs seemed annoyed "Mr. Lavin, that's what they told you? We need to talk, come with me."
Gibbs, with Eyal in tow, abruptly entered Director Leon Vance's office!
"Director VANCE, did you know our Mossad guest does not have a clue about what is expected of him? He believes he's here to give a lecture!"
"Yes, I knew! Director Rivka Singer though it would be best if we'd be the ones to read him in. She didn't want unwelcome ears listening in."
Gibbs rolled his eye "Well, when were you planning on answering that? In front of all?"
Eyal put his hand on Gibbs's shoulder to stop him from speaking out more.
"Director Vance, let me guess; Rivka told you it would be the only way I'd accept taking on this mission: By placing me in front of a 'fait accompli' and my friends, making it impossible for me to refuse. Plus, I'm guessing, it's a matter she'd prefer me to work 'off books'."
Vance nodded "You know your boss well. I didn't agree with the ruse but Joan Campbell assured me it would be the surest way to have you on our side. Mr. Lavin, let me reassure you that we need your experience and spectacular track record at this time."
Eyal looked at Gibbs then Vance "I'd prefer you'd read me in before the pm briefing. You can stop buttering me up, I'm already intrigued and yes, Director Vance… Rivka knows me all too well."
Vance sat at the end of the table and looked at Gibbs. "Well, you're the one that stormed into my office, by all means, read him in."
Gibbs signaled to Eyal to take a seat. "Mr. Lavin, first of all, welcome to NCIS. Ziva told us a bit about you, hope you hold up to the picture she painted for us. To be honest, we don't have a very good track record when it comes to Ziva's friends or colleagues!"
Eyal pinched his lips and asked "Aside from Eli David and Ari Haswari, who did you meet?"
Gibbs responded "Let me see, there was Michael Rivkin, who was killed by Tony, Ilan Bodnar, who was killed by Ziva, Amit Hadar, who was killed by a terrorist while under our watch, Namir Eschel who tried to frame Ziva, was killed by his partner and Iranian spy Faatin Amal, Liat Tuvia and Malachi Ben-Gidon assigned to protect Eli David. I don't know the fate of the last two."
Eyal swung his head sideways and said "Except for Liat, I see you've met the cream of Eli David's close circle crop! Liat is still with the Mossad and working under Rivka. Ben-Gidon had an unfortunate accident, he's no longer with us. I didn't appreciate losing friends because of his lies and failures. I analyzed the events that led to the sinking of the SS Damocles and saw it appropriate to tie-up some loose ends and he was the first knot that needed to be tied! Gibbs, by the way, thanks for going all out and rescuing Ziva. Had I been in the country, I would have ignored the chain of command and gone in myself! Getting back to the matter at hand; I was frequently called upon to be one of Eli's chosen ones but never accepted. The decisions he took, for the mission on that Jordanian freighter destined for Somalia, were a clear reason why!"
Gibbs whispered "Refreshing... for an ex Kidon!"
Eyal continued "Let me assure you, I do not resemble any of the officers you mentioned. Except for a five year sting with Kidon (for very personal reasons), I've been working under Rivka Singer. I possess adequate experience to work with my own protocols. Deputy director David and I didn't see our 'career/role' in the same way. While he was Deputy Director, Rivka made sure I was out of the state more often than none. Not certain I'd still be Mossad or alive, if I had worked closely with Director David. I'm sorry you were left with a negative impression of the Mossad. I'll do all in my power to restore a certain trust between our agencies."
Director Vance responded "Well, you have already scored positive points! You've resorted to something the Mossad doesn't traffic into very often: The truth."
Eyal was not one for small talk "Now that formal presentations are over, can we get to the real order of business? Why am I here and not the others?"
Gibbs was cut from the same cloth, out with small talk and right to the point "Mr. Lavin, we need you to lead a team of agents/officers in Europe while I work the mission in the states."
Eyal whistled softly "A multi-agency special task force! Must be one hell of a 'situation'?"
Gibbs's silence spoke volume, he continued his briefing,
"An ISIS defector, who grew tired of the whip and the sword treatments, gave us intel to the existence of a new kind of terrorist cell who call themselves; 'Mind Invaders - Europe's radical mavericks' Armed only with DTP (data transfer programs), websites and barmy mind controls of their targets, they are turning Molotov cocktail and IED (improvised explosive devices) into toys of the 21st century. This 'Mind Control' MO could be the new 'toy' on the market! In the near future, we might be facing a psychic war, cultural sabotage and semiotic terrorism."
Eyal's shoulders slumped as he commented "When the Celts went into battle, the Druids would satirize their opponents. But, their satire was so effective it could bring blisters to people's cheeks! Funny has never been so serious."
Vance whistled softly "Mossad, Kidon, deadly, unconventional, but cultivated, I'm impressed Office Lavin."
Nervously shaking his head, Eyal said "Please call me Eyal. I now know why Rivka assign me to you and, as I guessed, it's an off-book matter: Last year, I was pulled off a mission because I refused to permanently silence three targets. I suggested those targets seemed to be working against their will. I personally witness very strange and unexpected behaviors. It was as if they were hypnotized or, as I concluded, controlled by a brain-chip of some kind. My debrief didn't sit well with the Mossad. They scrapped the mission, telling Rivka and myself that we were not paid to go hunting in the twilight zone. To this day, we still think there was more to that mission that met the eye and that Mossad should have drilled down on it. Rivka is in payback mode, that women will never accept a smudge in her performance file!"
Gibbs chuckled as he asked "What's the status of your 'performance' file?"
Eyal laughed "Mine….. It's not a file, more a cabinet and it's full of 'smudges'. I don't always, more never, play by the rules!"
Vance added,"You'll get along fine with Special agent Gibbs. His file cabinet is also full, plus he has his own set of rules!"
Vance continued "I'm wanted at SecNav for a briefing. I'd wish for you two to choose your respective team. We will discuss the intel later. Gibbs brief Eyal on our course of actions. Eyal, please, feel to put in your two cents. Like I told you before, we need your experience. You and Rivka were right to want to drill down on the Twilight hunch you had. It's now 'in our faces' so to say and the US is not the sole target! When will spy agencies ever learn to trust the men and women in the field? Mossad had warned us about 9-11 but drilling down on that bit of intel would have said to all that a foreign agency was ahead of our FBI and CIA! Eyal, I, for one, worked with Eli David. Didn't agree with all he did, but he was a damn good field officer. Be assured, I will give you the same trust I did him. Seeking somebodies help is not a sign of weakness, but the only way for people like us to reverse terrorist globalization and this new order of things!"
After Director Vance had left, Gibbs approached Eyal and asked
"Eyal, this has nothing to do with the mission, is very personal but I need to ask: Are you sleeping with Sharon Welby?"
Eyal shifted awkwardly and said "No"
Gibbs continued "Look, I'm not one to meddle in another man's business but we gathered five of the best spies/agents available, plus my team and four of them happen to form couples – Annie Walker/August Anderson - Ziva David/Tony Dinozzo. It came to my ears that you and Sharon Welby have been seeing each other. I prefer knowing the facts beforehand."
"Gibbs, we only met yesterday under the watchful eye of one Mrs. Annie Walker. I needed a breather and Sharon invited me to watch the Blood moon in Sandy Point State Park. I'm not saying the woman doesn't interest me, but mutually decided that the timing wasn't right. Had a hunch something big was stirring! We are both professionals and will work accordingly. I can vouch for Annie and Auggie. They've worked together in dire circumstances many times and know how to set boundaries. Ziva, well…."
Gibbs winced "That's what I though."
Both men set aside the 'romance' chapter and attacked the task at hand: Choosing their team.
They put down the groundwork for building two successful teams.
Gibbs and Eyal worked well together, both were men of few words. Designing a strong team meant identifying each member's responsibilities while taking in the technical and interpersonal skills of each. Then, they put together a clear set of directions, secured organizational (CIA, NCIS and Mossad) support, build an enabling team structure, identified key relationships between each member, and monitored external factors (mostly the 'couple' question).
Eyal looked at their notes, graphics and final decisions and said "This was some brainstorming session. The lone question mark is Mrs. Sharon Welby. I, as she ask me more than once, should have read the file the Mossad's has on her or even asked Annie or Ziva for some background. Yesterday, I wanted/needed a respite from my regular life and to simply get to know the lady without reading 'her file'! Bad timing and wrong decision, my bad Gibbs, sorry!"
"Not a problem, don't think you would have learned a lot! All Robert Jackson said was that she's an excellent profiler and that the MI-6 shooter is an ex-lover. Her file was to follow, I didn't get it."
Eyal looked at Gibbs and both said in unison "A need to know situation!"
Gibbs rubbed the back of his neck and said "Lavin, we did some good work, let's call it quits! Damn, you've got what it takes to be quite a team leader. You wouldn't be looking for a sideline, a 'respite' of sort!?"
Eyal's mind was elsewhere, he asked "Gibbs, talking about Sharon, I need to meet with her before we read them all in."
"You want to offer her an out?"
Eyal shot Gibbs and admiring look,
"Yes, it's wishful thinking on my part, but I need to try. She has two teens…."
"I won't stop you, but personally I hope she stays with us. There's a reason 'Daddy' assigned her to this mission. Let's meet here at 1300 to brief our little ones on the intel on hand and the US and European teams. Eyal, there are going to be questions, you ready?"
Eyal chuckled "Can even predict them… I'm ready, let the game begin!"
Eyal found Sharon in the squad room, she and Ziva were teasing Tony by throwing around his sandwich. Eyal caught it and swung it to Tony.
"Ladies, behave!" where Gibbs words
Sharon shot out "Male Bromance!"
Gibbs smiled and lifted his cup of coffee to her.
Auggie and Annie had not yet arrived.
Eyal approached Sharon "Can I talk to you in private?"
She was surprised, but followed him
As soon as they were out of earshot, she asked "Eyal what's up?"
"Sharon this mission is darker that we've been led to believe. I'm offering you a chance to opt out."
"Eyal, you know my answer. If Robert assigned me to this mission, there's a reason. He may be my father, but when MI-6's director personally picks a field agent for a mission, he has his reasons. Family is not part of the equation. I'm in!"
"What can I say, I tried!"
"And it's sweet of you. Mr. Eyal Lavin, you are unquestionably not the typical Mossad spy."
Eyal chuckled and said "Reserve your judgement till you see me in the field."
It was now 1300, all were waiting and chatting in MTAC (Multiple Threat Alert Center) when Gibbs, Vance and Eyal walked in.
Annie cornered Eyal "Eyal, you pull one over us! I knew CIA was putting together a task force team, but never imagine it would be multi-agency. How were you able to keep this news under wrap at our get together?"
Eyal puts his finger on Annie's mouth. "Neshema, I swear I didn't know. I was read in this morning by Jethro Gibbs. Seem Rivka and Joan teamed up to keep me in the dark."
"Are you telling me Joan and Rivka 'collaborated' together?"
Sharon came behind Eyal and quipped "I'd add Director Vance to that covert committee. He's a student of Eli David! One word of advice Mr. Lavin: If you are going to play with the big boys, don't trust Vance. He will do what needs to be done to win, sometimes it's not pretty. It's Eli David at his best."
Eyal roughly took Sharon's elbow,
"Mrs. Welby, we do not proffer an opinion when not asked. FYI, Vance is his own person. I know too well how Director David operated, I'm Mossad remember! Trust me, there is a difference between the two."
Sharon twisted out of his hold and nervously backed up. Eyal immediately realized that he had been a bit too prompt.
"Look, I'm sorry. I was just read into our mission and it hit home so to speak. My temper is sometimes a bit short, just ask Annie!"
Annie answered "Sharon, don't fuss. That is Eyal as his 'normal' self. He tends to treat his friend like he does his work 'act and ask questions later. He doesn't have many of friends, believe me, but he's worth digging through the walls he's put up!"
Sharon smiled nervously at both, but Eyal wanted to kick himself. He had some major damage control to tend to after this debriefing.
Director Vance let Gibbs and Eyal run the show.
They started out with the conclusion, let's get it over style!
Gibbs spoke "People, you were chosen to be part of a special multi-agency task force because you were ID by your agencies as their bests. We will be forming two teams. I'll lead the US one and Office Eyal Lavin, from Mossad, will lead the European one. I know how your minds works and it's telling me that you want to know the teams' composition before the intel of the mission! Eyal would you like to satisfy our friends.
Eyal smiled, shook his head and said "Thanks! Well, I won't keep you waiting, here are the teams:
Gibbs's US team: Tony, Annie and Sharon
Eyal's European team: Auggie, Ziva, McGee
Gibbs rapidly stepped in "The choices Eyal and I made were not personal but what we though was best for the work ahead of us. This group was put together for a reason: You are the best of the crop! As for how we chose who was staying in the US and who was traveling abroad, it's all about you individual skills and personality. The home team will be close to the mother ship, Eyal will be on his own. He's use to operating as a one man team, plus he's a proven Master spy. That's why he's the team leader. As for his people - Auggie, Ziva and McGee: They are known to be a one man orchestra if you see what I mean: Auggie is acting as the profiler and handler, Ziva is the field agent and weapon specialist and McGee is the tech wizard. They won't have the luxury of having an Abby or Ducky at their beck and call. Before we get into the detail of what this mission is all about, want us to talk. You have questions about the teams, GET THEM OUT NOW or forever hold your peace."
Tony whispered to Ziva "Ha.. said by the man who has four wives!"
Gibbs shot Tony a LOOK "Dinozzo, you have something you want to ask?"
Tony looked at Gibbs and decided to put his question to him
"Did the fact that Ziva and I / Auggie and Annie are couples enter in putting together the teams? I'd even risk adding Eyal and Sharon to the equation!
Eyal smiled and signaled to Gibbs that he was taking this.
"Tony, whatever I'll say, you'll always have a doubt. Each team member is there for a reason. I won't go into the specifics, but you guys know each other well... figure it out."
Eyal stopped suddenly and looked at all "Think I just came up with a means to prove to you all that the 'couple' thing wasn't the reason behind our choices. I'm not saying we didn't talk about it, but it didn't have much weight in our final decision. I'm offering you all a challenge: You have 24 hours to hand us the reasons you think we chose who we chose. It also means that if you come up with a valuable reason to change things, I promise we will consider it. You think you're up for the challenge?
All were, as they say in French, 'Bouche bée!'(Open-mouthed) but they accepted the challenge.
Vance looked at Gibbs then Eyal. The man had just scored another point in getting NCIS to trust the Mossad! Vance said to himself, 'Damn that guy is good, Eli, hope you can hear me wherever you are: You err at not listening to this man!
Under Annie's teasing eyes Eyal took Sharon's hand and led her outside.
He asked "You OK with the teams?"
"Eyal, you and Gibbs do not have to explain, I trust you have your reasons."
"We do but …"
"Mr. Lavin… were you expecting a jealous reaction on my part?"
Eyal felt his face stiffen as he spoke "No, it's just that ….."
"Eyal, I've been working with family all my life – father, sister and now daughter! I've learned very early on that the only way to keep my sanity is to never question an assignment/decision from my loved and trusted ones. Don't always liked them or even respect them but for people like us there is an important phrase 'the need to know' that we must accept and abide by!"
Eyal's face lit up and Sharon silently admire the sparkle that had just passed through the man's eyes!
"I'm part of your loved ones? Thought for sure I'd be way down the list because of the way I treated you earlier."
Sharon shyly smiled "Well, we still have that 'rain check' don't we?"
"That we do and I will hold you to it, that's a promise!"
"Eyal, you were already in mission mode and I didn't realize it. Your reaction was perfectly normal. I'm also very intense when on a mission. I don't mix my personal life with my professional one. Be assured, I'm not 'mad' at you. That being settle, I'd like this to be the last time we refer to our personal feelings, OK Officer Lavin?"
"We see eye to eye, I won't argue with you on that matter, Officer Welby"
She handed him a file "You know most of the team members, I'm the newbie here! I want you and Gibbs to read this. It's my spy biography of sorts. My father compiled it with information from MI-6, CIA and the Mossad's. There's some stuff about me you and Gibbs should know."
Eyal shot her a surprise look "Mossad is not in the habit of sharing files, especially one on a foreign spy. What's up, Mrs. Welby?"
"Read the file! Now let's get back to the others before Annie starts spreading rumors."
On Tony and Ziva's side, it was not smooth sailing. Ziva was having problems reassuring Tony that Eyal was not her usual Mossad acquaintance.
"Tony, Eyal is like a brother to me. We have a relationship that goes deeper than I never had with my brother Ari. He's had my back many times, some at the risk of his own life and always against Mossad's orders. He was put on brush passes for many months, by my father, for going against direct orders not to intervene in an undercover mission I was part of."
"Ziva, he's Mossad and that's enough for me to doubt him. I simply can't help but worry about you. We've finally put our feelings for each other out in the open and the first thing Gibbs does is make sure we can't ..."
"Is that what you think I'm doing Dinozzo?"
"Boss… euh… well… euh.. Ah might as well say it YES. I know rules are rules, but…"
Gibbs just said "The challenge Eyal gave you just became an order: You have 24 hours to figure it out DiNozzo. I'd get on it now if I were you."
Tony simply said "Yes, Boss."
Eyal signalled to Gibbs that he was ready to continue. Gibbs asked McGee to bring up on plasma the photo of the MI-6 spy that had shot the Navy Admiral in, from what he said, self-defence.
Eyal was just leaving Sharon's side when he felt her fall. He wasn't quick enough to grab her and she hit the floor with a resounding bang. All were fast to be by her side. Gibbs picked her up, signalled Tony to page Ducky and laid her down on a nearby table. She was coming to when Ducky approached her.
"I'm OK, don't worry."
Turning toward Gibbs, she stated "Mr. Gibbs, what kind of cruel joke is this? The picture you pulled up on the screen can't be the shooter."
Gibbs steadied her and answered "Sharon, I assured you he is. He's presently been held in custody."
"Did you send his picture to MI-6, meaning my father – Robert Jackson?"
Vance answered "Yes"
Sharon let out a couple of swear word in French. Annie looked at Eyal, smiled and whispered "You two are made for each other!" A nervous Eyal shushed her off with "This is not the time ANNIE!"
With Gibbs's and Ducky's help, Sharon got up and went to the screen.
"Tim, can you please try to get my father up on screen NOW. Call him and mention the code 'Beatle' and he'll get back to us, fast enough!"
Turning toward all she said "This man was my boyfriend, lover, call it what you want. He died in my arms from two fatal gunshot, six months ago. He's dead, that I'm certain of. This is not Max Hunter. Damn, what is my father up to?"
Tony turned toward Ziva and said "You sure Sharon is not your sister. Seems I'm living a 'déjà vue'. Dead guys resurrecting and killing people… typical Mossad. Knew having them in town smelled trouble."
Ziva was so mad, she punched him and Gibbs added a head slap. Tony didn't dare say another word.
Gibbs approached Eyal "Eyal, forget what I said about you/her and protocol. She needs someone with her while she waits for her father to maybe shed some light on this mess. As I read it, you're it. Damn, what's with directors manhandling their daughters'."
Eyal patted Gibbs on the shoulder and went to Sharon. He protectively put his arm around her waist and let her fall into him.
He whispered "We are going to shed light on this. You need something, a coffee maybe?
"Eyal, what in the hell is going on, what is this mission all about. Please don't tell me it's the fuc_ing Mind Control mission coming to haunt me again?"
Eyal's breathing stopped and at seeing him, Sharon closed her eyes and said "NO… not again, please god, don't do this to me!"
At that Robert Jackson appeared on MTAC screen and Sharon yelled in a tone that chilled all "DAD!"
Tony said to himself "Hell of a life the daughters' of spy agencies Directors have!"
To be continued.