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Fic: Davide’s Five Smooth Stones

Title Davide’s Five Smooth Stones
Author paburke
Type: gen, crossover
Word Count 12,500
Rating teen
Characters/Pairings Noah Puckerman, Rachel Berry, Hannah Puckerman, Ziva Davide, Timothy McGee, LJ Gibbs, Tony DiNozzo, Abby Scuito
Warnings: strong language
Summary Noah Puckerman remembers Jonah Puckerman as an absentee father whose only smiles occurred when he drove his children to tears or their mother to drink. Ziva Davide remembers Jonah Puckerman as the identity she had set up for her brother, Ari Haswari, for when a covert mission went south and he needed to hide in US suburbia. About the time of 'The Sue Sylvester Shuffle' Ziva was flabbergasted to discover that he sired a child (possibly two) in Lima, Ohio. Can two people who grew up in dysfunctional families learn anything different?


Gibbs had cornered every single one of his agents in the elevator at one time or another, so it was no surprise when his agents continued the practice. McGee was just the last one Ziva had guessed would try it on her, two days before Christmas.

Ziva had been on her way to see Abby, mostly to plan a shopping trip for, and McGee slid into the elevator just as the doors were closing. He looked relieved that she was alone and then he flipped the switch. The lights dimmed and the elevator stopped.

Ziva grinned. “You know that I can combat any assassination attempt.”

McGee looked confused and then brushed it off. “You know how I found the list of identities from the last terrorist cell we caught.” Ziva nodded. “And you ID-ed Jonah Puckerman as one of Ari’s aliases.”

Ziva nodded again. “I told you to ignore it, because Mossad would know about anything worthwhile Ari did as Puckerman.”

McGee waved his hands helplessly. “Gibbs told me to check it anyway, just in case Mossad wasn’t in the mood to share.”

“You found something?” Ziva more said than asked. Even she couldn’t remember anything notable of Puckerman’s ‘life.’ “He was living in no where, Ohio. That’s where he disappeared to whenever an op was compromised. No one would find him there.”

“Ziva, he was married in Lima, Ohio.”

Ziva blinked. “Ari… was married.”

“His name is also on a birth certificate.”

Ziva relaxed. “Of course, Jonah Puckerman had a US birth certificate. I created it myself.”

“He’s listed as the father.”

Ziva stared at McGee in shock. She knew better than to ask if he was sure. McGee wouldn’t have approached her if he had any doubts. “DNA?” she said softly.

“I snagged it off Noah’s juvie record and had Abby compare it against Ari’s. I took out the names and made Abby promise not to run either through the system until I could break the news to parties concerned. There’s a second birth certificate for a younger daughter, but I had no way to confirm Ari’s parentage.”

Ziva digested that. “How do they think… what does Ari’s family think happened to him?”

“He abandoned them, Ziva. Over seven years ago. His wife filed for divorce based on abandonment.”

“That was probably for the best,” she mused. “He started getting in deep with Hamas about then.”

“Ziva. Juvie record. His son’s grades are, quite frankly, dismal. Hannah’s are better. Noah could use some encouragement and help if he’s going to go anywhere in life. I wonder what kind of woman Ari would pick for the mother of his children and I have this horrible feeling that she was the worst possible choice. Her heritage is Jewish and we all know how Ari felt about that side of his family. Someone needs to step in. You are family.”

Ziva was surprised at McGee’s passion. “You really think…”

“Yes. Please, go try. You can wait until after the new year, because there’ll be less emotional… upheaval but you’re a good person. You can help Noah understand that not all of his family is…” McGee was too good of a person to accurately describe Ari. “Hannah would always enjoy having an auntie to spoil her. My sister and I adored our aunt.”

“Yes,” Ziva agreed. “I will go and try.”

“Promise me. Promise me you’ll go and introduce yourself.”

“I promise.”


Two weeks later, Ziva was regretting her promise. Granted, Columbus Airport wasn’t horribly busy and the car rental was waiting for her as ordered. Ziva scoped out the layout to smooth the return flight the next day. (She didn’t want to hover. She would open the door and give the family some time to adjust to her existence.) The weather was slightly colder than DC and there wasn’t much snow on the ground. The land was flat and wet. The drive through the fallow farm land was monotonous and brown broken by small towns. Lima was the biggest city she’d seen since driving from the state capital. Ziva wasn’t sure where she should go. Going to the hotel would be procrastination. She didn’t want to meet Ari’s wife first. She didn’t want to explain that Mrs. Puckerman was now a widow to a traitor. Ziva would lie first.

Ziva drove to McKinley High School. Noah attended here. Barely. If Ziva thought that Noah would attend sessions, she would pay for a tutor. He wouldn’t have much of a future with his current grades. McGee had been correct in that assessment. Ziva parked and noticed teens wandering around. Not too much excitement for a Thursday. School must be dismissed for the day. She exited the rental car and stood and watched. She wondered if she would be able to recognize her nephew from his file.

She shook her head. Of course she’d be able to spot Noah Puckerman. Just because he was her nephew didn’t mean anything. She had spotted hundreds of men from their file photos. This was no different.

Noah didn’t walk by her. Perhaps he was involved in some afterschool activity? McGee had said that he was a co-captain of the football (American) team. Ziva should have had Tony explain the sport to her, but he would have been able to tease the truth of her new relatives out of her. Ziva wanted to keep this secret for a little bit more. She would tell Gibbs. Gibbs would want to know, but first, Ziva wanted to confirm that Ari hadn’t left a sleeper agent behind in Lima, Ohio.

She doubted it. Noah would have perfect or nearly perfect grades and a spotless criminal record if he was to cause trouble later. Being sent to juvenile detention for petty misdemeanors would make him stand out in a computer search.

Ziva caught the attention of an Asian teen female and asked for directions to the football field. The teen looked suspicious but pointed her in the right direction. Ziva walked to the field and watched the coach run the teens through drills. The students varied in their abilities to follow directions. Ziva climbed up the stairs and found a place on the bleachers close enough to read the back of the uniform shirts, but with some sort of protection for her back. She didn’t like being this exposed; anyone could come up under the bleachers and assassinate her.

Ziva indentified Noah’s shirt number, 20, and then stepped higher on the bleachers. This way an assassin would have to climb the structural support, completely doable, but easier to spot before dying. She watched the team practice. She was pleased to note that Noah was one of the better players.

A hummed snatch of a song distracted Ziva. She turned her head slightly so that she could see the source out of the corner of her eye. A girl –teen- was seated in the opposite corner as Ziva. She was tiny with dark hair. She was doing her homework while intermittently watching the players. She was bundled up against the cold, wearing bright colors.

Ziva decided to tap this information source. The girl had to be a girlfriend of one of the players. Ziva moved seats.

The girl watched her. She opened the possibility of conversation by taking out her earbuds.

Ziva smiled. “One of those your boyfriend?”

The girl looked a bit sad. “Two of them are my ex-es.”

Ziva wasn’t sure what she should say to that.

“What do you want with Noah?” the girl demanded.

Ziva blinked and decided to ‘play dumb.’. “…Noah?”

“Noah Puckerman. He’s defense. Most people watching football watch either the plays or their player. Your head isn’t following the ball when Finn throws it.”

This was one sharp girl.

“I want to talk with him.”


“That is our business and not yours,” Ziva told the nosey girl.

“Why are you trying to talk to him at school and not at home,” her eyes dropped to Ziva’s throat and her Star of David necklace, “or at the synagogue?”

“Noah’s an ex-boyfriend,” Ziva deduced.

She nodded. “But he’s a pretty good friend now. If you don’t contact him within twenty-four hours, I’m going to tell him you’re stalking him.” She spoke with conviction. She would do it.

Ziva wanted this girl on her side. She was a true friend to Noah. Ziva held out her hand and told the truth. “I’m Ziva Davide.”

The girl shook. “Rachel Berry. So what do you want with Noah?”

“That’s still none of your business,” Ziva said. “It’s private, but if you could facilitate an introduction, I would appreciate it.”

“And I would know that you would have stopped stalking him.”

Ziva nodded. “True.”


“So what can you tell me about Noah?” Ziva asked.

She thought about it. “He’s a good football player. He’s a good singer. He’s really good at his guitar. His two favorite school groups are one, the Glee Club and two, the football team. The Glee Club is definitely better, especially since several of the players are being total asses.” Rachel glowered at the field.

Ziva wanted to distract her. She had noticed Rachel’s priorities. “What is Glee Club?”

Rachel straightened and grinned. “We sing and dance and compete. We are going to go all the way to Nationals.” She was so tiny and fierce, Ziva was reminded of Abby.

“Dance?” the agent brought the conversation to things that interested her. She remembered the joy of ballet. And the heartache of her father missing all of her performances.

“Hip-hop, choreographed as a group to whatever song we’re singing. You should see what we’re doing Friday. We’re going to have the whole school cheering for us.”

Ziva made a mental note to call Gibbs and extend her vacation to Saturday or might as well make it Sunday. There was no reason to fly on Sabbath if there wasn’t a case and she wanted to see Friday’s performance. Even if Noah didn’t know she was there. “Where is the performance?” she asked.

Rachel looked surprised. “Here. Of course. The cheerleaders are going to some competition and leaving the half-time show of the championship game to the Glee Club.” She turned fierce again. “No one is going to miss them with the show we’re putting on.”

“The championship football game?” Ziva asked for clarification.

“Yes. Coach Beiste and Finn and Noah and Mike are the best. Now, if only the rest of the team could get their heads out of their asses.”

Down on the field, the teams had handed off the football to their coach and were jogging around the track. “That’s the last thing,” Rachel announced. She packed up her bookbag and stood. She was even shorter than Ziva had estimated. “If we want to talk to Noah before he showers and vanishes, we gotta catch him now.”

Ziva followed the girl onto the edge of the field and waited behind the fence. Rachel timed her call, breathed in and hollered “NOAH!” Ziva twisted her head, surprised that so much noise came out of such a little package.

Rachel had gotten Noah’s attention. He glanced their way, glanced back at the football players. “Noah!” Rachel yelled again. “Five minutes.”

Noah shrugged and took off his helmet. Part of Ziva was surprised to see her nephew with such an identifiable haircut. The other part of her remembered the bathroom dye job she had done when she was fourteen. Noah jogged over. “You have two minutes, Berry.”

Rachel didn’t waste any time. “Noah Puckerman, Ziva Davide. Ziva Davide, Noah Puckerman. She wanted to meet you.”


“It’s a long story,” that Ziva didn’t want to share in front of Berry.

“I don’t have time for this, lady.”

Ziva glanced at Berry one last time and decided to chance it. “Your father…”

Noah turned on his heel and started walking away. Ziva didn’t need anymore confirmation to McGee’s theories. Ari had been a pig to his children. She jumped the fence and chased after her nephew. She caught him before he could join the others. She grabbed him arm. He shook her off, but didn’t throw a punch. The self-control was promising. “Look, lady, the man was a horrible father. I don’t know what he was to you, but…”

“A horrible brother.” She shocked him enough that he was listening. “Half-brother actually.”

“Why are you here?” Noah demanded with a growl that might be intimidating in a decade.

“I wanted to see if Jonah left anything good in this world by way of you and your sister. My sister is dead too. You and Hannah are my only chance to be an aunt.”

Noah listened, but didn’t change his expression. Ziva took it as an opening.

“Can I take you dinner?” Ziva asked.

Noah snorted. “Between football and Glee, I don’t have a spare second for school, let alone you.”

Ziva had manipulated and had been manipulated by the best. All she could see was a desperate teen determined not to let anyone close. She reminded herself that Noah was talking about American football to distance herself from the hurt his sharp words inflicted. “After Friday?”

Noah didn’t have any reasonable deflection since she was ignoring his defensive mechanisms. “Why are you doing this?” he asked point blank. He didn’t quite believe her the first time.

“Because you are worth it.” He scoffed and Ziva added to her reasoning something her nephew might believe. “Because your father was a shvants and I refuse to let him win by destroying more of our family.”

“At least you’re delivering the good news that the SOB is dead.”

Ziva wondered if he had a single good memory to mourn Ari. “Yes, your father is dead and has been for a while.”

“Just now getting around to telling the rest of the family?” Noah accused.

“That is a very long story. Dinner?”

He wasn’t even curious enough about Ari’s demise to accept free food. “I told you. I don’t have time now.”

“Puck!” another football player yelled. The coach was standing by him and looking worried. Noah waved at them. Puck was his nickname. Part of her was horrified that her nephew’s identity was based off of a false name.

“Stay the hell away from Hannah,” he ordered. Then he turned on his heel and jogged away without fanfare.

Ziva watched him go. As first meetings went, it could have gone worse. It could have gone better, as well. For now, she would refrain from introducing herself to Hannah. She would, however, get a DNA sample and perform surveillance on both children. Ziva exited the football field at a slower rate. When she stepped off the field and onto the surrounding track, the gravel crunched beneath her feet. Ziva stooped down and picked up one tiny, black stone.

For remembrance.


Ziva knew when to step back from a mark, a witness or a suspect and it was the best advice she could tell herself when dealing with family. She would return to the football field tomorrow. For now, she would subtly investigate Hannah. She would soon be getting out of school. The elementary school was a quick drive away from the high school. Ziva could wait in the parking lot with a clear view of all the exits. She reviewed what little she knew of Hannah as she waited for the final bell. She was a good student. She had a cell phone as a part of Noah’s family plan and she used it to contact her brother more than any other person.

The bell rang and Ziva watched and waited. She would have to figure out a way to get the girl’s DNA. It probably wouldn’t affect how she treated Hannah –it was obvious that the Puckerman children came as a set- but Ziva was curious. Finally the children streamed out of the school. Some climbed onto buses, others walked away and others were picked up by their parents.

There. Ziva spotted her niece mixed in with a group of walkers. Hannah was quiet and smiled little. She had a small group of friends, but she listened more than she talked. The most animated Ziva saw her was when Noah arrived to drive her home. He picked her up at the corner, out of sight of the sharp-eyed teachers. Hannah smiled at her big brother like Leah used to smile at Ziva. Noah helped her into the cab of his truck, and did a quick evaluation of his surroundings. He wasn’t being coy or sly. He was looking for Ziva. The agent approved of his suspicion, even if he wasn’t experienced enough to spot her. She watched them drive off and noticed that Noah’s driving resembled Tony’s, fast but didn’t take nearly the number of chances as Ziva. She actually approved, even as she planned to teach him more offensive driving.

Ziva walked up to the school building and asked around for Hannah’s teacher. Cindi Starr was tiny and cheerful. She wouldn’t let Ziva into the school but didn’t mind standing out in the cold for a couple extra minutes. Mrs. Starr liked Hannah, though she didn’t know anything personal about the girl. She had never met Hannah’s mother because Noah always attended the parent-teacher conferences and picked up Hannah’s homework when she was sick.

A second teacher joined the group. Mrs. Starr introduced the first grade teacher, Jessica Colley. She was of average height but a beautiful blonde with a steel backbone. Ziva could guess the direction of the conversation the second Miss Colley said, “You’re talking about Hannah Puckerman. Are you a relative?”

Ziva nodded once.

“Of Jonah?” Colley pressed. It was interesting that she guessed Ari first when Jonah Puckerman’s manufactured background had no family.

“Yes.” Damn you, Ari, she thought. The only one that will mourn you will not be your family. Colley was exactly Ari’s type when he could choose his bedmate, someone who was visually not Muslim and not Jewish. Why couldn’t Ari have married her and fathered Noah and Hannah with this woman? The children would have at least some support. Tim, young, naïve, insightful Tim had called it. Ari had picked the Jewish woman least competent to mother children. Ziva hated her sight unseen.

“I haven’t seen him since Noah was in the school.” Was that wistfulness Ziva detected? Or was that an accusation?

“Jonah’s dead.”

Colley looked more annoyed than mournful. She tossed her hair and straightened her perfectly tailored coat. This woman would not have borne children for Ari; she was too vain. What was she doing teaching first graders in Lima, Ohio? “That’s a shame. How long?”

Ziva blinked. She was here to gain information, not share it. “It’s been a little while,” she demurred. Ziva addressed Mrs. Starr again. “Thank you for everything.” Ziva nodded once to Colley and walked away. She picked up a small, reddish stone, roughly the size of her pinky nail from Hannah’s school playground. She placed that stone next to the one from Noah’s field in the cup holder of the rental car.

Ziva had time on her hands. She was half tempted to break into both schools and investigate her family that way. She discarded that idea. Though… Colley. Part of the reason that Ziva had flown up to Lima was to see if Ari had left a sleeper agent behind. Noah was obviously not one. Ari had destroyed the boy’s self-confidence and foundation, but not in a way that would be useful for another agent. Jessica Colley was a little too smug and a little too curious as to Ari’s demise.

Colley would be at the school for a while longer. Ziva used her phone to enter into a federal database. She found Colley’s home address, but no criminal activity. Colley had graduated top of her class of an Ivy League school. Hmmm. Interesting. Ziva knew of several terrorist recruiters that prowled the universities under the cover of diversity. So what was Colley doing in Lima, Ohio?

Ziva would investigate that. Anything to delay introducing herself to Ari’s widow or checking into a bland, lonely hotel room to wait for the next day. She drove to Colley’s home and parked some distance away. She entered the property though the back yard. Colley had an eight foot high privacy fence, so no one saw her case the house. Colley’s place was a house, not an apartment and it was bigger than Ziva would have assumed for the woman’s salary. Ziva put on gloves, picked the lock, circumvented the security and prowled the house. Colley had taken a holiday in India, near the Pakistan border. Ziva recognized the temple in the background of that picture.

In Colley’s jewelry box was a bracelet Ari had bought in Berlin. Ziva had wondered where it had ended up. In the bedroom, Ziva found a picture of Ari smiling. Ziva knew that smile: Ari wore it whenever he was having fun making people dance to his tune. Ziva used a special Mossad USB drive and put a Trojan virus on Colley’s computer. It would transmit all of Colley’s actions on the computer to a secure location. All in all, Ziva hadn’t found any evidence of a sleeper agent, but she had found enough to be wary.

It was time to leave. Colley would never know or suspect that Ziva had been there. She hadn’t left an item out of place.

Ziva drove downtown Lima until she found a decent hotel and checked in. She paid in cash and used a Puckerman alias in case Colley decided to investigate her. Ziva would talk to Sarah Puckerman tomorrow, while the children were in school. Ziva could not delay the meeting any longer. She would get the unpleasant task out of the way and focus on Hannah and Noah.


The meeting with Sarah Puckerman went as well as expected, considering. The woman was a cruel drunk. She hated Ari with a passion and took it out on Hannah and Noah. She truly thought her children were losers because that was how she viewed herself. Ziva’s tentative plans concerning her niece and nephew cemented in that first ten minute conversation. She had to be a loving aunt to Hannah and Noah. She had to give them some positive family to lean on. Ziva gave the woman a full bottle of brandy and went out and found a lawyer to draft a guardianship document. Ziva returned to the Puckerman household and got Sarah to sign it and then filed it at the courthouse. Now, if anything happened to Sarah, the children would be legally Ziva’s. She only considered killing Sarah Puckerman for thirty seconds before discarding the idea. If she thought she had a decent chance to legally wrest custody from Ari’s ex-wife, she would have filed for it that day. As it was, Ziva was a single working woman (a brand new US citizen) living half-way across the country that was a literal stranger to the children.

Ziva had a goal: get the children to DC every summer. She had already laid the ground work with their mother. Sarah was eager to be rid of them for a couple of months. First, Ziva had to gain their trust. No. First, she had to get to know them.

Ziva knew the first step in that plan was to attend Noah’s football game.

Ziva arrived early, bought her ticket, stood in line for the concession stand for some coffee that’s only redeeming features were that it was hot and strong. Then she tried to find the best vantage point. There really wasn’t one to be had. The bleachers were too far away to cheer for a single student, but the sidelines were reserved for players or other school personnel. Ziva was too short to see over the sea of students. She reluctantly climbed the bleachers, hoping to see Ms. Berry again. The teen was chatty and perhaps would divulge information. Berry wasn’t in the stands and Ziva was flabbergasted when she heard the announcer say her name.

What was Berry doing on the field when yesterday she had been watching in the stands? This game was sure to be interesting as a Chinese curse. The game was interesting in that the uniformed girls on Noah’s dropped to the ground and left a few males to carry on. Rachel Berry had said that the team was being difficult. Had all of the males that had been practicing quit, leaving Berry and the others to fill in? Ziva surmised that this was what she was talking about. Noah’s team was losing, badly. Obviously, since this was the championship game and McKinnley had earned this game, the team roster was not normal.

Ziva hoped that the half-time show was everything that Berry had said it would be. It didn’t matter. Noah was more proud of the Glee Club than of football. Ziva would use her phone to record the halftime show. She was ready and had a clear line of sight when the band played the first notes. Michael Jackson. Even Ziva recognized the song of the American music icon. The children had added another song to the mix. It complimented the original song well. Ziva enjoyed the music and singing and the dancing. She would show the entire team as soon as she returned to DC.

Half time ended and the teams reassembled on the field. This time, Noah’s team was complete, all males. It was the same male dancers of the half-time performance. They didn’t bother changing their uniforms or washing off the make-up. Now this was a team that had earned the championship game. They were easily equal or better than their opponents. They worked well together and used everything at their disposal, including psychological games.

Noah took it one step further. Ziva was close enough to the field to hear the opposing team accuse ‘one of those zombies bit me!’ A glance at Noah’s face confirmed the accusation. She was proud that her nephew threw off the opposition by taking the psychological attack one step further and biting one of the other team. She laughed at the simplicity and effectiveness of it. Noah caught her laughing and shock flashed on his face. Noah was surprised that she approved. His coach and his teacher both would have disapproved, but that was the difference between a spy/federal agent and a teacher.

Ziva cheered as loud as any other fan when Noah’s team won in the last minute of the game. Ziva worried that she wouldn’t able to find Noah in the crowd, but to her surprise, Noah separated himself form the celebrating teens and approached her.

“You did well,” Ziva told him. “And I will show everyone at work your musical performance. They will be impressed.”

Puck looked surprised that Ziva had come to his game and was a bit bemused as Ziva enthused about the performance. He rubbed his Mohawk and didn’t directly look at her. He wasn’t lying when he spoke, he was just embarrassed. “Yeah, well. Thanks for coming.”

“It was my pleasure,” she reassured him. “I told you that I want to be your aunt in more than blood.”

“What about Hannah?”

“I have not approached her, as you directed. I understand that you will want to… inspect me before I introduce myself to your sister. I have been told that it is my responsibility to spoil you. I am looking forward to it.”

Noah looked skeptical. He was too beaten down to be hopeful. “How much spoiling are we talking about?”

“You would get tutors.”

“Tutors do not sound like a treat,” Noah pouted.

“But a future where you can go to college does,” Ziva countered. “You will not graduate on your current path.”

“How the hell do you know that I need tutors?”

“I am an NCIS agent,” at Noah’s slightly fearful expression, she expanded, “Naval Criminal Investigative Service.”

“Navy CSI?” he asked.

“Naval cop,” Ziva corrected. “That was how I found out about you. My brother… was a criminal. His DNA was in our database and when we stumbled upon the Puckerman identity, we did a little shoveling and found you.”

Noah made a face, so Ziva guessed she had mangled another idiom. Noah ignored it and focused on the important intelligence. “So Puckerman really isn’t my name.”

“No,” Ziva smiled grimly. “Puckerman is your name, but it was not your father’s.” Ziva would complete the paperwork herself. It might not be true at the moment, but it would be true before the month was through.

Noah was pleased with the assessment.

“I wish to know you, Noah, and Hannah too. I want to know how to best spoil you and more than that, I want what is best for you. Tutors will open up your future to you. Please work with them. Work with me. I can make things better for Hannah, too.”

Noah nodded slowly. “Okay. Yeah. I can work with that. Hannah needs to get out of this town. She’s smart enough.”

Ziva decided to push. “Let’s start with breakfast tomorrow. My treat.”

“As long as you are planning on eating at eleven,” Noah countered. “I plan to sleep until then.” He waved at the celebrating teens. “We worked hard for this. We are going to party.”

Ziva did not show her displeasure at the late start and Noah suggested a peace offering. “I could bring Hannah?”

“Yes. Assuredly. Please.”

“Then we’ll meet you at Bob Evan’s at eleven?”

“I’ll be there,” Ziva promised.


Ziva made good use of the morning. She attended the synagogue and interviewed several prospective tutors for Noah. She managed to find one at an acceptable price that was smart, flexible and inventive. She scared him in addition to motivating him. Then she drove all over Lima looking for classes in anything that might catch Hannah’s eye. The child needed to expand her comfort zone.

Ziva was waiting in Bob Evan’s at ten-thirty. She was drinking coffee with a clear view of the parking lot and the entrance. So she saw when Noah parked his truck at ten fifty-five. (Where did he get the money for it? Sarah Puckerman wouldn’t have given him it.) Ziva saw Hannah jump out of the truck and bounce at the tail end waiting for Noah to catch up. She grabbed Noah’s hand and dragged him across the parking lot and into the restaurant. Noah spotted Ziva before the hostess could say a word and led his little sister to sit across from Ziva and then slid beside her.

Hannah looked at Ziva with big eyes and a shy smile. She wanted to like Ziva as much as Ziva wanted her to. Noah’s body language was still wary and at times antagonistic, but he was here and he had brought Hannah.

Noah flirted with waitress and asked for the Farmer’s Breakfast defiantly. Ziva blandly smiled at him. Hannah asked for French toast and sausage politely and Ziva didn’t react. When the waitress walked away, Hannah leaned across the table and whispered. “Mom says that we shouldn’t eat bacon. And Noah makes better pancakes than any restaurant.”

Ziva choose to focus on the second statement. “Does he now?”

Hannah nodded.

“I’d like to try them sometime.”

“Are you really my aunt,” Hannah asked with the innocence of youth.

Ziva smiled at her. “Yes.” Sarah would have rubbed Ziva’s nose in it if she had been unfaithful to Ari… not that Ziva would have blamed her. Also, Ziva knew her brother better in retrospect. Ari probably would have killed Sarah if she had been unfaithful, an honor killing for bearing a child that was not his. Ziva didn’t need a DNA test to confirm anymore. “Yes, I am.”

“Why didn’t we know about you?”

“Because your father didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t know about you either.”

“Why not?” Hannah asked because Ziva didn’t tell her to stop. Noah jabbed his straw into his ice water angrily. He wanted to know the answer too.

Ziva didn’t want to lie to these children but really didn’t want to tell them the truth either. “Your father. He had a lot of hate in him. He didn’t want anyone to be happy. So he kept people apart that he thought might be happy together.”

Noah paused enough to listen. He was judging her words and finding them true. Curse you, Ari. Curse you to gehenem.

“So you are happy to know about us?”

“Very happy.”

“Will we see a lot of you?”

Ziva tilted her head. “That’s hard to judge and it will have to be scheduled. I live in Washington DC. I work there and I can’t change my job, but I’m hoping that you can visit me during summers.”

Hannah looked to Noah for support and then turned back to Ziva. “Visit you. Both of us?”

“Of course.”

“I work during the summer,” Noah said. “If I want to keep my truck and my phone, I have to work.” Well, that answered one question and relieved Ziva’s mind.

“I’ll pay you to do work around my place while I’m at work,” Ziva promised him. “I’ll keep you busy, just in DC and you’ll get to spend some time with me.”

“Mom’s going to let me drive to DC?” Noah scoffed.

“No,” Ziva admitted. “I would fly the two of you to DC and give you both city bus passes while you stayed with me.”

“That’s a lot of money.”

Noah was not going to accept the gift from her, Ziva realized. “It’ll be a reward,” she coaxed. “If you raise your GPA a full point, I’ll fly the two of you to DC for the summer.”

“And the tutors?”

“You’re getting the tutor. Already found him and he can work around your schedule. He has your number and…” she slid the business card over the table. “You will call him. It’s the only way you will graduate.”

Noah picked up the card as carefully as Ziva picked up a bomb. With his thumb, he flicked the corner. It was time to stop pressuring the teen. She smiled at Hannah and set a handful of brochures on the table. “Noah is getting a tutor to help with academics but you have no problems there. I noticed that you have no physical and social activities, Hannah. I am asking you to choose one. Ballet and karate are equally allowed. I don’t care what you choose, all I ask is that you commit to it.”

Noah set the business card aside and sorted through the brochures. “If you’re doing dance, you’ll do it right. This is the one that Rachel Berry goes to.”

“Rachel’s scary about her dance,” Hannah whispered. “I don’t want that.”

Noah tossed all the dance brochures out of the way without argument. “That’s fine. Though it could just be Berry. She’s high strung. Then what do you want?”

Hannah looked from Noah to Ziva. “I really don’t care,” Ziva stressed. “I just want it to be different and new and fun. Like Glee Club is for Noah.”

Hannah looked down at the brochures and Noah could read her desire in how she chewed on her lip. He picked up the gymnastic flier. “What about this one?”

“That’s interesting,” Ziva encouraged.

“They have a trampoline,” Noah read off the paper. “And ribbons and balls and s… stuff.”

Ziva and Hannah grinned at the belated clean language. “If you want, you and Noah can visit after lunch and if you don’t like it, you can pick something different. I’m not demanding an answer today. Whatever you choose will have to fit Noah’s new schedule.” Ziva knew that Sarah Puckerman would not bother herself to drive her daughter to an extra-curricular activity.

“Football’s over. It’s just Glee Club and Mr. Schue keeps that to school hours,” Noah reassured his sister. “Football went too late to join basketball this year.”

Hannah looked over all of the choices and picked up the gymnastics brochure again. “I think I’ll try this one.”

“Wonderful. I will make arrangements before I leave.”

The waitress arrived with their hot breakfast. Noah mostly concentrated on eating, but he was listening closely as Ziva told them about her childhood in Israel. Hannah matched story for story and Noah liked to tell of embarrassing things Hannah had done when she was young. From the strength of the memories, Ziva was sure that Noah had had more to do with Hannah’s upbringing than either of her biological parents. Ari was not mentioned by anyone and no one missed him.

‘It’s your own damn fault, ach,’ Ziva thought to herself.

The small talk was going well enough that Ziva ordered another cup of coffee for herself and Noah and a hot chocolate for Hannah. She decided to change the lighthearted conversation with regret she dug into her purse to pay for the bill and the tip and drew out two of her contact cards. She handed a card to each of the children.

“This is my business card,” she told them. “If anything ever goes wrong I want you to call me right away. I want you to memorize my number, don’t just put it into your phone and use speed dial. Also, on the back is my friend Abby’s phone number. She can answer her phone all the time. I can’t. If it’s an emergency and I’m not answering, I want you to call Abby. She’ll be able to track me down and pass on the message. Also I trust her to keep the important secrets, so you don’t have to worry about her kibitzin’. On a side note, if anyone approaches you and scares you, let me know right away. Your father associated with very dangerous people. I might had inadvertently,” Hannah looked confused so Ziva used a different word, “accidently drawn their attention to you.”

Hannah wasn’t sure what to think. “Was my dad a bad man?” she asked.

Noah watched Ziva with Ari’s eyes and waited for her. Would she tell the truth? Ziva had no choice. These two, better than most, knew the evil creature that had lurked beneath Ari’s smile. “Yes. Your father, my brother was a very bad man. If anyone, anytime mentions knowing your father, you get away from them as soon as possible and you call me. Understood?”

Hannah nodded.


“What will you do, I mean really do, if something happens?” her nephew asked.

Ziva’s blood ran cold at the thought. She would hate to lose these two precious children. “I will return with my team and with many guns and whisk you off to a safe house. I will keep you safe.”

Noah finally nodded. “I’ll call if anyone mentions the sperm donor.”

“Good.” Ziva stood to leave and the children followed. Unexpectedly, they waited as she paid the bill and then walked with her to her car. They were reluctant to say goodbye.

Hannah broke the standoff and hugged Ziva’s waist. “You’re not going to disappear, are you?”

“No. Wild buffalo couldn’t keep me away. You have my phone number. You can call or text at any time. I can’t promise to answer. Especially when I’m on the job, but I will get back to you eventually.”

Noah made no move to join the hug but he didn’t seem bothered by it either. He wasn’t itching to drag Hannah away from Ziva. He didn’t have a clue as to her abilities, but still, he trusted her this close.

Ziva hated to leave, now when she was finally making some progress but she had a plane to catch. As she left the restaurant parking lot, she looked back (she never looked back, it signified a weakness) and saw the children watching her. She smiled and waved at them and they-even Noah- waved in return.

Ziva forced herself to merge with traffic and drive to the airport. Tim called as she was boarding the plane. The team had caught a case and he needed to know when she would be back in DC. He kept the conversation professional, signifying that either Gibbs or Tony was eavesdropping. Ziva told him everything he needed to know and suggested drinks after the case was concluded.

At the very least, Ziva owed Tim a beer for pushing her into making the trip. She would never regret meeting Ari’s children.

Part 2