It was Friday morning in Tel Aviv. Ziva and Tony decided to shower together, then head downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast. As they waited for their order, they began to talk. "Tony," Ziva admitted, "after last night, I only have one regret."
"What is that?" Tony inquired.
"We did not do this sooner," Ziva responded with a coy grin. "I could always tell you found me attractive, despite all the taunting you give me in the office. I guess we were both worried about what would happen if we decided we weren't for each other."
"I've gone to the end of the Earth and back for you," Tony answered, "and I'll do it again in a heartbeat. I love you, sweet cheeks, and I would never hurt you."
"I love you too, my little hairy butt. I will always have your back, and if you ever hurt me, you'll have at least three people waiting to kill you." As Ziva reached across the table to kiss her partner, the waiter arrived with their breakfast.
As the couple began to eat, they turned back to business. Between intimate encounters with his partner, Tony thought about all she had been through before, and during, her time with NCIS. What if, Tony thought, someone else was manipulating Ziva's life. "I was thinking, whoever is after the great Eli David, they may have tried to use his family as the tool of his demise."
"Let's start with Ari. I'm sure that he knew from the start that he was being trained to be a mole in Hamas. But what made him want to turn on his father?"
"Ari said that he resented him for killing his mother."
"But Mossad is an intelligence agency, and Eli wasn't even director when the attack happened. He might have known when they would occur, but he couldn't have ordered them. Do you know if Eli was in contact with Ari's mother back then?"
"I doubt that my father would have known when or where Ari's mother would be working."
"In order to insure that Ari's mother was killed, they would have had to make sure she was there when the strike happened. With his mother gone, Ari changes from kind and protective big brother to cold and spiteful monster. Your father realizes that Ari had turned on him, and sends you stateside to clean up his mess. You were still loyal to your brother, until you realized what he had become. Now your relationship with Eli became strained. Which leaves us with Tali."
"Tali always had a kind heart. While my father had to hide his emotions, Tali wore them on her sleeve."
"Thus, Eli would be suspicious if someone had turned Tali against him. She had to be eliminated. With Tali out of the picture, Eli is broken-hearted, even if he doesn't show it. Two children are dead, and you have written him out of his life. For the coup de grāce, they let the Palestinian Resistance Front in on Eli's trip to Washington."
"They thought I would intentionally screw up, that I would let him die."
"That was the first thing that went wrong with their plan. Now, your relationship with your father has started to heal. The trap they spent a decade setting failed. Now, it's time for Plan 'Bravo.'"
"They leak information on Mossad operatives to Hamas, which uses the latest rocket attacks as a shield to kill Mossad officers. As Mossad ops start to fail, the blame would go straight to the director."
"The only thing is, back in '01, someone knew that Tail was targeted for assassination. They alert Hetty, Hetty saves Tali and moves her to Kansas, where she starts a new life. Fast forward to today: Tali gets a call from a friend. Her friend shows her pictures of Mossad operatives and a note revealing the fact that they are compromised. Tali reaches Malachi and arranges a dead drop. Dead drop is executed. Malachi sees the photos and contacts Eli. Eli contacts Vance; Vance calls us. We investigate and find the fingerprint. Fingerprint comes back to Tali and her new identity. Gibbs checks it out. Not only do we know what they're up against, but Tali is back in play."
Ziva nodded in acknowledgment. In some respects, she knew her life had been manipulated. It was one of the reasons she left Mossad and became a naturalized US citizen. What was somewhat surprising was the fact that Tony had realized it might not have been her father pulling the strings. "Clearly you've given this some thought," she noted. "Last night must have been a very stimulating experience for you."
The NCIS office in Dubai arranged a flight for Ziva and Tony, and reserved a room at the Burj al Arab. The duo arrived in Dubai and checked in three hours before their scheduled meeting. "I'm beginning to love this op. I get to stay in the best hotels, with the most beautiful woman to share it with."
Ziva moved in on her partner. Using what Tony called her 'Mossad ninja skills,' she pushed DiNozzo onto the bed. "We've got a couple of hours before the meeting," she noted.
Tony looked into her chocolate-brown eyes and saw a spark of passion in her that he hadn't seen before. "If we let it all out now," Tony replied, "Then we'll be too tired tonight." As he finished his remarks, he ran his fingers into Ziva long, wavy brown hair. "When I said I couldn't live without you, I meant every word."
"I know," Ziva answered as she kissed her partner.
After cuddling together for an hour and a half, they had showered and got dressed for the meeting. Ziva wore a sleeveless red dress, while Tony had a black pinstriped suit with a crisp white shirt and Navy blue tie. "Are you ready?" Tony asked his partner.
"As ready as I'll ever be, hahebh shely," Ziva answered.
Tony's eyes widened at Ziva's response. As they exited the hotel room door, he offered his arm. "Mio amore, you look absolutely stunning," he responded to Ziva's Hebrew with a little Italian.