Thanks for the reviews, they keep my imagination going! Hope you like this second chapter!
Chapter 2 - The table is set.
Waking up in strange quarters was not one of Ziva's favorite awakenings. She winced at seeing Abby cuddling up close and personal! Abby had asked if they could bunk together and Ziva realized it was not a question!
She would have preferred spending the evening with Eyal. By his dark sad eyes, she knew he needed some 'home-talk' and 'lean-on-me' moments. Eyal was her last link to the Mossad; her own secret safe-house. At the beginning of her spy career, he had been more a brother figure than Ari; standing up to her father and risking his life many times to get her out of precarious situations. She recalled his gracious attitude when Eli purposely gave him missions that were way below his pay grade … punishing Eyal for covering his daughter's shortcomings! The man was a skilled/deadly spy and renowned womaniser, that's the reputation that preceded him. A reputation he was fine with and helped nourish. But underneath the wall he put between himself and humanity, he was, as Ziva, a man longing for some 'normality' in his life. He had a son that he could not visit or talk with and an ex-wife that despised him. He often came to Washington because, at Mossad, he was the best 'to handle Americans'. When he was in town, they would meet and talk the night away.
Abby was still sleeping soundly when Tim knocked and politely let himself in.
"Ziva, Tony called a campfire."
"Do you know what he wants to discuss?"
"No, but brace yourself … he's in 'I'm in charge' mode!"
Abby jumped out of bed and startled McGee and Ziva.
"Tony is able to influence anyone in a beneficial and positive manner!"
Ziva rolled her eyes and said, "Yes, I admit, he has a way with people, but the enthusiasm and ways he goes about it … drives me up the stairs."
Tim corrected, "the wall, Ziva!"
"Can't walk up a wall!"
Sharon gently pushed the door and asked, "Just got a text from Tony. Could someone tell me what is a 'campfire'?"
Ziva filled Sharon in, "It's a debriefing session."
Shooting them a quizzical look, she replied, "Why not just call it a debriefing?"
Abby immediately protected Tony, "Tony has his ways, makes the process interesting and we can all have our say. No one is left behind."
Sharon was about to speak but Ziva signaled that it would be wise to quit while she was ahead.
Changing the subject, Ziva asked, "Sharon, did you just take in a run?"
"Yes, try to go out as much as I can."
"Well, tomorrow stop by and we'll run together."
Tim gathered them, "Abby, get dressed. Ziva, Sharon, think we'd better join Eyal and Tony."
Ziva shouted, "Tim, they're waiting? Why didn't you say so?"
Tim nervously replied, "Though that's what I had said, sorry!"
They scrambled to join the guys and, as Ziva had dreaded, Tony had a line waiting for them.
"Seems our ladies have different strokes for different folks. With Gibbs, Ziva is always on time."
Tim immediately set things straight, "Tony, my fault. I mentioned the campfire, but forgot to tell them it was 'now'."
Abby came in. Sharon and Eyal looked at her, then at the others.
Ziva responded, "Sorry guys, I'm not explaining Abby's wardrobe."
Tony dared, "Abby what's with the protective gears? This is a simple campfire for the new members to get to know us and have a feel of how I work with my team. We are not under attack; don't you think the gas mask and bulletproof vest are a bit too much?"
Abby replied, "Quinn said to be ready for surprise simulations. I don't have your training, I prefer preparing myself for the worse."
Tony explained, "Abby, promise no simulation during my campfire. Take the mask and vest off or you are going to suffer from hyperthermia."
Eyal helped her shed the gear as Tony started his 'campfire',
"Sharon, Eyal, don't know of your work habits, but here, we work as a team. These campfires are not only debriefing sessions but a way to 'tell all' and clear the air. Yesterday, we were briefed at what you will be teaching us, but would like to know, from the horses' mouths, what you guys expect from us in return."
Sharon started, "Weapons training and my father added investigating techniques."
Tim asked, "Sharon, how can you extract officers and not be armed. Think Gibbs even specified 'extreme' extractions."
"I use my mind, find alternatives but most of the time the officers I extract are armed and can have my back. What helps is that I'm the pilot and have a partner with me for the 'ground' work. On my last extraction, me not being armed resulted in a very close call for myself and two agents. Came to the conclusion that I need to lean to point and shoot. Could have taken the training at MI-6, but our agencies made a deal for an exchange of services."
Tony teasingly looked at Sharon then Ziva and said, "Ziva, you're in charge of Sharon's weapon training."
Ziva rapidly replied, "Tony, I can handle myself, but I'm not the best to teach. Last time I tried my hand at it, one of my students swung a knife that flew centimeters from Gibbs's head."
"Ziva, Officer Lee was not your typical recruit. Your two are a perfect match; both Director's daughters, avid runners and have obsessive-compulsive personality.
Ziva and Sharon shot Tony the same pair of eyes. He noticed and went further, "You two have the best eye coordination I've seen, you're made for each other. Next!"
Ziva was fuming as she signed to Tony, "Going to get you for this!"
Ignoring her, he asked, "Eyal, your turn. What do you expect from us?"
"Frankly, nothing. You need to get in the mind of today's terrorist and my agency tasked me at doing just that. I navigate in a world that is not yours, don't see where investigating techniques could help me do a better job, survival techniques are the only ones I use, no offence."
Tony realized he'd have to put on kid's gloves at going about dealing with Eyal. Gibbs had read him in on Mossad's wishes for their Officer.
"None taken, but Eyal, the last thing I need is your Director thinking I owe her. We are all investigators but Abby could brief you on forensic knowledge. I could also add Dr. Donald Mallard, Ducky. He's our Medical Examiner, he talks to his corpses. You might benefit in learning what they tell him. It could be useful to know the many ways a body can die!"
Abby added, "And not leave any forensic evidence!"
Eyal replied, "Two avenues I never had time to explore. You're right, it could be interesting. Good thinking on your part; better you not owing our director!"
Abby's hand was up and Tony guessed her question. "Abby, Officer Lavin will not be working with you but only observing. He's a spy, they are masters at being discreet. Eyal, our Abby prefers to work alone."
Eyal confirmed, "Abby, I also prefer to work alone. I won't be in your hair, promise."
That seemed to satisfy Abby. Tony was proud of himself. Pairing the hard and cold spy with the more than caring forensic scientist could only result in making a better human being out of the man. Ducky, with his profiling talent, would be able to read him in at what to expect of the man. Reading a Mossad master spy was an impossible task, he'd been down that road before!
For the rest of the debrief, they discussed their present assignment and Tony voiced a final comment,
"Eyal, Sharon, you've been properly brief and I'm sure you know us more than we know ourselves. But would want you to take the time to properly get acquainted with us as persons and team members; your new colleagues. A written black and white sheet of paper has no nuance. I would prefer you form your own opinion of our team. You have a question or problem, don't hesitate to talk to me and the others."
Abby shot up from her chair and hugged Tony. Ziva whispered to Eyal, "You're going to need to get use to…"
She didn't have time to finish her sentence that Abby had Eyal in a hug … the man didn't have a choice but to fall into that brutal and unexpected hug. Tony was one proud Special Agent.
Quinn came in and said, "Guys, compliments of your team leader, your morning is free of training. Tony convinced me that it would be better for you five to have some bonding time before all hell breaks loose. Not sure it will be all good because it's giving me more time to refine my simulations. Make the most of the next 4 hours; we meet back here at fourteen hundred hours."
Ziva approached Sharon, "You up to taking in a second run?"
As they hit the trail, Sharon caught Ziva's arm and said, "Slow down girl, we need to talk before we try to outrun each other."
Sitting down on a tree stump, Ziva invited Sharon next to her.
"What do you want to know about Eyal?"
"Who said I wanted to talk about him?"
"Ha, basic investigating techniques; you couldn't take your eyes off him and you purposely sat in his field of vision, pushing Tim's chair a bit to your right. You were not very discreet."
"I usually make a point of never dating a spy … gone there a couple of times and it didn't end well! But in his case, he's candy for the eyes and I'm intrigued by the guy. Can't hurt to explore things a bit!"
"For dating spies, know what you mean, been there, done that with the same results! Look, I know Eyal well. He is not seeking any kind of long-term relationship. Don't get me wrong, he'll treat you with respect and consideration, but he's the 'there today gone tomorrow' type. Sharon, he's a complicated man!"
"He's Mossad, what else to expect! I'll take my chances. Just wanted to know if he had a special someone waiting for him at home. Spies often omit that fact and Mossad's files are … well … incomplete! I'm not the kind of woman who sleeps with a spoken for man and have no respect for a man that can cheat on his partner."
Ziva rolled her eyes at Sharon, "Can assure you that Eyal is not that type of man. He was married, but longtime divorced. Has a son, but he can't even look at the kid without his ex yelling for a restraining order! There, that's all I'm going to tell you. You enter the lion's den at your own risk, you were warned."
"OK! It's a rapt from my side of things. What's with you and DiNozzo? You guys an item or you playing hard to get?"
"Neither. We are colleagues. There is a special friendship but nothing romantic."
"Bull, and that's my gut feeling, no spy or investigating techniques needed! You're in love with him but for a reason I can't yet figure, you're holding back. In case you are doubting his feelings for you, don't!"
Ziva was surprised at Sharon's to-the-point and blunt way of saying things.
"Sharon, I assure you; I don't have romantic feelings for Tony. Plus, he's now my boss and Gibbs does not approve of coworkers dating."
"Hey, I stated what I thought I saw and will leave it at that. You should keep in mind that for people like us, life is short and opportunities usually don't knock twice. You and Tony should explore your feelings and if a romance is the end result, well, what can I say; where there is a will there is a way."
"Since you know how it is 'for people like us', you should know it's sometimes complicated and/or impossible."
Sharon smiled, "Did you just admit lying to me at having no romantic feelings for Tony but the truth is that you're denying them because it's too complicated and/or impossible?"
Ziva looked blankly at Sharon, "How does that mind of yours work? I did no such thing!"
Now laughing outright, "Too late Officer David, you've just committed yourself. Might be lacking basic investigating techniques, but I can detect when a person is lying!"
Shaking her head at realizing Sharon was no stranger to reading a target and adding that she was out of touch with covering her real persona as she could so well do when an active spy, Ziva admitted,
"On some points, you are right. Asking you a favor; don't speak of this to anyone. Why on earth did Chief Jackson think you needed to learn investigation techniques. You seem at Gibbs level for basic gut feelings and your observation skills are a step above average. Those are two essential qualities for investigating a crime scene."
Smiling and winking at her, Sharon explained, "It takes one to know one. Did you ever agree to one of your father's demands just to buy peace, knowing full well he was 100% off base?"
Ziva's eyes lightened up, "Many times, many times … it's reassuring to know I'm not alone in doing that!"
"Not always easy being the Boss's daughter. It's often best to 'agree' than to 'disagree' and just suck it up. When you argue with the Chief or Director and win (prove your point), colleagues say behind your back that he's playing favorites with his daughter. When you lose, or are wrong, colleagues say you're not worthy as a spy. Doom if you do and doom if you don't. When you're related to the head honcho, if you can't find a niche where you're the best, get out of the business. See you chose to get out. I might be at that same crosswalk. I'd like to talk more of your decision to become an American and leave family and Mossad behind."
Ziva was liking this woman more and more. They spoke the same language and seem to have some of the same 'scars'.
Ziva continued, "Sharon, you feel the need to talk, I'm there for you. Can't promise I can give you expert advice, but I've been through the full rainbow of feeling/emotions on the daughter-father relationship! For the weapon training are…"
"On that point, Daddy is dead on … sadly. Ziva, I am scared … no not scared, petrified of a gun or knife when in a situation where I must hurt, main or kill."
"Sharon, you can kill a person with a paper clip, basic spy training. Don't tell me that your 'petrified' of a paper clip!"
"I'm not a spy, remember!"
"My turn to say; bull, you're more a spy than all present, dangerously so! What happened for you not to be able to handle a gun."
"Didn't say I couldn't handle a gun or any weapon. Give me your P228."
Ziva carefully handed her gun to Sharon. She familiarised herself with it, looked around and in seconds, shot three bullets in the bull eyes of her chosen target.
"What in the hell was that?"
"That was not a living thing. When I'm obliged to shoot something that's alive, be it a mouse or an elephant, I just can't. I panic and it's not a simple anxiety attack, but a full blown mega 'get me out of here at all cost' attack. On my last extraction, I completely lost it. MI-6 had to get me and the agents in my care out of a dire situation I created. I'm benched till I get my head properly screwed on."
"Wow! Handgun techniques and knife throwing I could help, but a psychological problem of that kind, I'm not qualified. Hell, my own head, for different reasons, isn't properly 'screwed on' at this time!"
"Make you a deal; I don't speak about your screwed-up head and you keep mine under wraps."
"Sharon, I won't lie for you to get a green card for field duty…"
"Not asking you to compromise yourself. Trust me, I will not put another person at risk for my inability to point and shoot. I'll call it quits if I can't work it out. Don't worry, I'll come clean with Daddy that NCIS tried their best, but that my problem is not solved. He'll not hold your agency accountable. Ziva, being able to do some 'good' (by teaching you how to deal with terrorist organisations) will go a long way in helping me out of the emotion gutter I'm presently in. I just want to make the most of these five days. You might not be able to help me with my particular problems, but I CAN help your team. A damn mess you and Tony cleaned up. You both can be proud of yourselves. Gibbs is right; he put his team on a mission you were all ill prepared for. We live in a dangerous world and it's not getting any better. North America is not as affected, but it's coming. Gibbs is doing the right thing in upping your training."
It was as if Ziva was looking at herself in a mirror. Not the same problems but the same result; a very trouble woman!
Ziva admitted, "Had I kept my spy training up to par, I would have been able to better help Gibbs and Tony. I let them down."
Sharon rolled her eyes, "Ziva, you are no more a spy. The slip second evasive techniques and the acquired sixth sense when in danger if not used are rapidly lost. It would be impossible for you to maintain such abilities when they are not practised on a daily basis. You can't have it both ways. From what I read you are an exceptional Special Agent and were a Master Spy. These five days are going to revive the old Ziva, but not up to the level you were at. You didn't lose all of your spy tools, only some fine-tuning!"
Ziva put her arm around Sharon's shoulders and said,
"Let's put those dark situations to rest for now. Why don't we show Tony what two obsessive-compulsive personalities can do to each other when simply jogging!"
"Right in front of you, my dear!"
And they were off!
Giving the team the morning off was more for Tony himself. He needed to speak to Gibbs.
"Boss, you OK to talk?"
"I'm good. You have a problem?"
"No would even say I'm proud of what I just manage. Put our best markswoman with Sharon and paired Abby/Ducky with Eyal. The guy will witness so much 'humanity and good', he won't know what hit him and I will get Ducky's impressions of the badass Mossad spy!"
"Good thinking, I'm impressed. What did you call me for?"
"Boss, are you … well, are you OK with me being team leader. Yesterday, you rapidly laid down a lot and..."
"Tony, I'm fine. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate and help create my future role at NCIS and do not worry; I'm not going away."
"Could I ask why announce it before all?
"To stop you from refusing because of your concern for my feelings and thinking it through too much. DiNozzo, I'm not pulling myself out of the game. My role needed to evolve. Me staying, as team leader, would have meant I was wasting good. Tony, you are ready and will become a very capable leader, do not doubt yourself."
"Not me I'm doubting! Not sure you realized yet what it means not to be going in the field."
Chuckling, Gibbs replied, "I won't take the team leader away from you. Did that once and I was wrong. My role will consist of helping Vance in some tasks and, the part I like most; study missions and assign them to different NCIS's teams and when necessary, help by doing some hands-on training (in the field work). Your team, once these five days are over, will have the basis of what is necessary for higher priority assignments. Some of them overseas. Sharon Welby and Eyal Lavin, if you want them to (it will be your call), can stay on for 6 months to a year. That's the agreement we have with their respective agencies. You are on the right track at getting to know them inside and out. Tony, NCIS needs to adapt to these 'new', dangerous and unpredictable criminals and terrorists. You are better fitted than I to lead this team in that direction. We are not talking about a cellular phone, lives are depending on having the right man at the right job! Tony would like for you to have one of your campfires and explain my actions to your team. (There was an awkward silence and Gibbs added) DiNozzo, don't worry, I'll be on your 6th. All you'll have to do is ask."
"Thanks, I needed to hear that!"
And that was that.
Sharon and Ziva, as expected, were battling it out and near exhaustion, but both were too proud to stop. Eyal was taking in a training of his own, using the outdoor military equipment to go about a very demanding calisthenics workout. He worked on his upper body, not wanting his leg wound to bleed again.
Sharon stopped and held Ziva back. "Ziva, help me out, how can I … well … make 'contact' with him.
"Can I, at least, catch my breath and drink a bit of water before playing matchmaker? By the way, prefer warning you; that's a job I stink at with regular folks… Eyal is a spy and a good one at that! Sure you don't want to seek someone else's help?"
"No, you're here, he's here and we still have two hours left of down time. Get me an in with him!"
"You're pushy when in need! Girl, you are surrounded by Navy men, if you're that desperate I surely know a cute one I could introduce…"
As she spoke she felt, no smelled, a sweaty body not far from her. Slowly turning while watching Ziva's face going from red sweaty to embarrass red, she knew Eyal was in her back. What to do, what to say?
Wiping his neck and face, he whispered in Sharon's ear, "Hope I'm as attractive when sweaty as you are!"
"Don't know, I'm too ashamed to look!"
Turning her around, he laughed and barely managed to say, "Well, that's a new 'come-on' line!"
Regaining her wits, Sharon replied, "And you must know a bible full of those!"
Ziva held her breath, that girl liked living dangerously.
Eyal wasn't frazzled and replied, "I'm Jewish, bibles aren't my thing!"
"Replace it with the Torah if you must!"
Ziva pulled on Sharon's arm and said close-up, "Girl, what's with you?!"
Sharon answered, "You forgot to mention that he's stuck on himself!"
"You didn't ask, you were on cruise patrol… big times!"
Eyal was enjoying himself, "I've been called vain, narcissistic, self-centered, egotistic, egotistical and conceited ba_tard, but again, that's a first. Stuck on myself… like your ways with words. Hey, saw a restaurant not far from this base, would you care to join me for a drink? Ziva, you're welcome to join us."
"Two's company, three is too much."
Eyal smiled, "One has a way with words and the other, well, doesn't! Ziva, it's; two's company, three's a crowd."
"I call them as I see them, a crowd or too much, means the same thing!"
She left to cool down, leaving an ill feeling Sharon and Eyal sporting a bold playful smile. He noticed her awkwardness and lost his player's personality.
"Hey, let's start at square one. I would like to have a drink, would you like to join me, please? Promise not to bite and be on my best behavior."
"I'll also rewind; yes, I'd like to get to know you. We'll be working together for some time."
"I don't intend on staying on, you?"
"Think I'll give it a try. I'm benched at my agency. A change of scenery would do me good. Tony and the team, I like, Ziva especially."
"Hope it works out for you, now, what do you say, you up to a drink?"
The way he affectionately put his arm around her back made her shiver. Looking sideways, she saw Ziva giving her the thumps up!
Eyal bent and whispered, "It's a go, Ziva approved!"
Sharon closed her eyes as she remembered why she hated dating a spy!
As they were about to leave the base, Eyal turned and scanned the land. He seemed worried, Sharon asked, "Something wrong? Would you prefer we stay on base? Is it your leg?"
"You still have Ziva in sight?"
"Yes, she's doing stretching exercises in the park where you were working out."
He talked in a way that if one was observing, they would not be able to read his lips,
"Don't ask questions and get yourself to her. Something is going down. Give Ziva the code word 'sakana' she'll react accordingly."
She also put herself in spy mode. Sakana meant danger in Hebrew. She scanned the horizon, didn't pick up anything unusual but she trusted Eyal not to joke with such matters.
As she came up to Ziva, she mentioned the code word.
"Ziva, I'm not joking. Don't know what the hell is going on, but Eyal picked up on something. Spy or investigating techniques, do what you must but get into the right grove!"
Ziva asked, "Where's Eyal?"
"Don't know, he vanished and told me to meet up with you. The code, I know it means danger, but he said you would 'act accordingly'."
"It may be one of Quinn's simulations."
"No, Eyal and I have been read in on her 'simulations'. We are the 'teachers' remember! This is not something that was planned."
"This can't be happening!"
"Girl… by your looks, you just realise something, read me in!"
To be continued.