Disclaimer: I own nothing. BtVS & all its characters belong to Joss Whedon & Co. NCIS belongs to Donald Bellisario & the people at CBS. I own nothing but the ideas in my head.
Spoilers: This is a prequel to ‘The beginning of Elizabeth Tali’
Dedicated to Packhero who motivated me to publish something. I am still writing but my ADD has gotten so out of control that I currently have currently 122 (I actually counted) plus WIP’s that I bounce back and forth in writing. I can’t make myself focus on one for more than a couple days at a time and I don’t want to tease everyone by posting any more WIP’s. I am working on getting treatment for my ADD (sort-of) so hopefully I’ll get my brain straightened out and start posting on a regular basis at some point.
Dawn hid a smile, arching a brow at Giles who was hiding a smirk himself. It was so amusing what people would say right in front of you when they didn’t think you could understand them.
“Rupert speaks almost fluent Arabic, Ari,” Eli David said.
“I do not care,” Ari growled, his accent thick. “I will not work with that little girl.”
Dawn straightened, her hackles raised.
“This is beyond lunacy, father,” Ari continued, fist slamming on the table. “She is an idiotic American, she will only cause problems.”
“And you’re a self-righteous, egotistical butt-wipe with a huge stick up his ass,” Dawn sneered in perfect Arabic. “And you’re working with me and I’m in charge so there.” Then she stuck her tongue out at him for good measure, smiling gleefully when the vein on his temple throbbed.
Ari glared at her, mumbling something incredibly nasty at her as he stalked out of the room.
“Well, he’s a friendly guy,” Dawn muttered. “I’m sure we’ll get along fine.”
Eli laughed. “Please do not torture my son, Dawn.”
“I’ll try not to,” Dawn smiled sweetly. “But I make no promises.”
Ari watched his little American pest out the corner of his eye. She was barely more than a child, he didn’t think that she could be even eighteen….and yet she wasn’t a child. She didn’t act like any of the other teenage girls he’d been around and given his assignments in England and the United States, he’d been exposed to more teenagers than he cared to remember.
“Okay, so I think you should stay here,” Dawn said. “And I’ll go run inside.”
“No,” Ari said firmly.
“Huh, out of the two of us here, I’m the one in charge,” Dawn countered. “So I get to make the decisions.”
“I am not allowing you to go into a bar, alone, in this neighborhood,” Ari sneered. “Especially dressed as you are.”
“What’s wrong with how I’m dressed?” Dawn looked down at herself.
“Nothing, if you are a common prostitute,” Ari said.
Dawn glared at him. “So that’s how you get laid, you pay for it.”
Ari glared back. “Little girl…”
“Ass-wipe,” Dawn interrupted. “And you deserve it, you called me a whore, butt-hole.”
“I did not call you a whore,” Ari frowned.
“You said my clothes belong to a prostitute,” Dawn replied. “Not sure how that works in Israel but in the US, that’s the same as calling somebody a whore.”
“I did not mean it that way,” Ari said. “I just meant your clothes are too revealing for a girl your age.”
“You know what, I’m not a baby or a little girl,” Dawn replied. “I’m old enough to make my own decisions and that includes how I dress. Now, we need to get info off a guy that apparently likes his drink and dance so I’m going in to get it.”
“How do you propose to do that?” Ari asked, fairly sure he wasn’t going to like whatever idea she might have came up with. In the weeks that they’d been ‘working’ together, he realized that while she might be smart, she didn’t have any common sense.
“Easy, go be all prostitutey at him and swipe it,” Dawn replied. “I’m pretty good with the pick-pocketing.”
“What exactly do you mean by ‘all prostitutey’?” Ari asked.
Dawn just grinned. “Well, if you’re all insistent that you need to go in there, you’ll see.”
Thirty minutes later, his hand was squeezing his glass of scotch so tightly it was surprising he didn’t break the glass. Her ‘all prostitutey’ plan consisted of shaking her ass, which was barely clad in a tight skirt and rubbing against the Russian man from whom they were trying to get intel. It was very hard for him not to plant his fist in the man’s face, throw Dawn over his shoulder, and carry her out of the bar.
Logically, he knew what she was attempting to do. It was not an uncommon practice and not something he hadn’t done before himself. He had slept with woman to get intel before and comparing that, what Dawn was doing was relatively innocent. The Russian man was enthralled by the young American rubbing herself against him, that was easy to see. Almost as easy to see why. When Dawn wasn’t being fighting with him (which hadn’t happened yet while they were together), she was refreshingly beautiful. Long brown hair (which normally reached the middle of her back when down) was piled on top of her head in some complicated manner, small tendrils hanging free to frame her face. She was wearing a tiny top, halter he believed it to be called, which cupped her firm breasts and showed a good amount of creamy cleavage and left her entire back bare. Her skirt was tight and cupped her round, full bottom, ending just a few inches under it. Her tan legs were bare, feet tucked into a pair of insanely high heels. She was beautiful, in an innocent, fresh way he was not used to seeing nor thought he’d ever be attracted to. And he was. Not just physically attracted, he was also mentally attracted to her. She was quite brilliant and her sass actually turned him on rather than having the opposite effect like it normally would.
He saw her steal the flash drive from the man, but only because he was watching for it. She was actually a rather talented little thief, not that he could see her doing it in pursuit of a crime. She continued to dance with the man, not wanting to give away what she was doing. After another song, she looked up at the man with a look Ari did not like. Her blue eyes were hooded and her little tongue snaked out to wet her lips. She whispered something in his ear and then scampered off, her ass swaying sweetly toward the bathroom. He tossed a bill onto the bar and then stood up, heading for the door.
Dawn was waiting by the car by the time he got out there, her arms wrapped tight around herself. “I got it.”
“I saw,” Ari spit out, barely casting her a glance as he unlocked the door. Dawn muttered as she got in but didn’t say anything, instead kicking her heels off and curling her legs under herself.
He realized why he was so pissed off about halfway to her hotel; he was jealous. It was not an emotion he was familiar with, he couldn’t actually remember feeling it before, and he did not like it. This little woman-child should not test his control so effortlessly, he would not allow it. That firmly set in his mind, he dropped her off at her hotel, barely waiting for her to get out before speeding away.
Thirty minutes later, he was in a different club, this time the one with a young beauty rubbing against him. The girl was polar opposite of Dawn; blonde, busty, ditzy, and no where close to innocent. And he felt nothing other than the natural tightening of his body from being so near a female. He could take her back to her home, get every bit of frustration out of him, but he didn’t want to. He didn’t want her. That bothered him more than anything else. There was too much going on in his life, too many actions set into motion to let a little girl ruin them. He would not allow it.
“Seriously, Giles, I can manage this on my own,” Dawn said. “It’s not like Ari even knows what we’re doing anyways, I don’t need his help.”
“Did something happen, Dawn?” Giles asked. “Ari hasn’t been inappropriate…”
“Nothing happened, Giles,” Dawn interrupted. “I just don’t like deceiving people, you know that, and it’s all I’m doing with him. Makes me feel guilty.”
It was a complete lie, pretty much. She really didn‘t like deceiving him but that wasn‘t the reason she was trying to get rid of her partner. Every since the night three weeks ago when she went ‘all prostitutey’, Ari had been even more dickish than the first time they met. He barely talked to her and when he did, it was just to sneer something at her. It actually made her feel like shit in all honesty. She could admit that she was starting to like-like him, that whole bad-boy thing that she thought she outgrown after Spike. He was also smart, hot, and pretty funny when he wasn’t being an ass. Which wasn’t now.
She didn’t want to be around him anymore because it hurt and she didn’t like it. He obviously couldn’t stand her, he made that more than clear, and why should she torture herself by staying in his presence? But telling Giles that would cause a fight that just didn’t seem worth it. They were trying to broaden their horizons with other governments and fighting with the son of a deputy director just wasn’t the way to do it. So she would grit her teeth and not say anything. This job couldn’t last that much longer.
A day later, she was regretting that. They were of course together, about to do some crime to get more intel, and he was being a major asshole. Worse than normal. He barely looked at her, hadn’t said more than ten words in the five hours they’d been together and it was making her all jumpy. Which in turn made her trip and set off an alarm.
“You blithering klutz,” Ari hissed. “Are you trying to get us caught?”
“Yeah, I thought it’d be fun to go to jail,” Dawn hissed back, his snide remark hurting more than it should. Which she didn’t like. He managed to get the information they were after downloaded but they had to run to get out of the building before security caught them. They barely made it to the car before the police arrived, and only Ari’s competent driving skills got them out without being caught.
Dawn curled up in her seat, pretty sure she was going to have to tell Giles something because she couldn’t go on like this; he was making her so upset that she was screwing up, something she hadn’t done in a long time.
Ari cast a look at Dawn, sighing at the melancholic look on her face. He hurt her feelings, he knew that. He hadn’t meant to snap at her, it just happened. They very well could have gotten caught and he did not relish the idea of going to jail. But not as much as he didn’t relish the idea of Dawn going to jail. That was when he knew his feelings were deeper than he thought, he was more concerned about her than himself. There were only three people in his life that could claim the same place and two of them were dead. Only Ziva remained, the little sister whom thought the world of him. He sometimes wondered what she would think if she knew exactly what plans he was in the process of making.
He should not approach her, should not let their relationship get beyond the working one that they now had. His life was already mapped out and it is not a life that he would expose her to. He made his decisions and she would not suffer because of them.
All that changed though when he pulled in front of her hotel, preparing to drop her off like normal. She turned to face him, her big blue eyes hurt and actually filled with tears.
“Goodbye, Ari,” Dawn’s voice was soft and so final. She was not saying goodbye for the night, he was very certain of that by her tone. It both angered and threw him into a panic. Anger came because nobody left him, it had never happened before and a little American girl would not be the first. And panic because he did not like the idea of not seeing her again, it actually bothered him. Bothered him much more than he liked. She was gone though, out of the car and heading into the lobby before he could think of anything to say. Or if he should say anything at all.
He drove around for hours, not sure what he should do. He did not think they were done with whatever assignment they were working on, his father would have told them if they were almost done so he could return to what he was doing before, trying to infiltrate a Hamas operation. So it did not make sense as to why she would be saying goodbye, unless she did not wish to work with him any longer. That thought bothered him. When he ended up back at Dawn’s hotel, hours after he left, he was not surprised. He was fairly sure he was always going to end up there. Charm and a half-smile got him passed the night bell-check and since he’d seen Dawn’s room key, he knew which room she was in. He needed to speak to her, apologize for being an asshole. That was what he planned to do but his plans went out the window when she opened the door.
Short, short shorts, a tiny, miniscule top, and messy-bed head greeted him, Dawn looking more appealing than he’d ever remembered anyone looking. He did not think he would make it out of her hotel room without being changed. And neither would she.
Dawn glanced at the alarm clock beside the bed, trying to figure out why the hell Ari was knocking on her hotel door at 3 in the morning. It had to be him, he was the only person that she knew in Tel Aviv, where they were staying. She didn’t know where he was staying, he didn’t divulge that information to her. But he did know where she was staying which she thought was completely unfair. Throwing her blankets off and muting the television, she half thought about putting on a robe but didn’t really have the motivation. Instead she padded softly to the door, pulling it open to find a flummoxed looking Ari.
“What?” Dawn arched a brow.
“May I come in?” Ari asked.
Dawn wordlessly held the door open, stepping back when he walked past her. “What’s up? Did Stalick make a move?”
“No, not that I’ve been told,” Ari said.
Dawn shut the door and then leaned back against it. “Then what’s up with the late-night visit? Not like we have anything but work to talk about.”
“You are angry with me,” Ari said, frowning down at her.
“I’m tired, Ari,” Dawn replied. “Why are you here?”
“I do not know,” Ari said, brushing a hand over his face. “You said goodbye.”
“Yeah,” Dawn agreed. “That’s generally what one says when they leave somebody for the night.”
“No, you truly said goodbye,” Ari said. “You do not plan on working with me any longer, do you?”
“It’s probably for the best,” Dawn replied, arms crossed over her chest defensively. “You clearly do not enjoy my company.”
Ari scowled and crossed the room, crowding her body back against the door. She sucked in a breath, her senses on sudden overload. She’d never been this close to a guy that she hadn’t known since she was ten or that wasn’t trying to kill her. He smelled good, all musky and male. His hands planted on either side of her head, trapping her against the door. His brown eyes were so dark that they looked black and were staring into hers with an intensity that nobody had ever shown her before.
“You are deadly wrong, little one,” Ari whispered, his head dipping down towards her.
It was sensory overload. She’d been kissed before, a couple times, but nothing like this. Ari had evidently done a lot of kissing in his lifetime because oh, my goodness did he know what he was doing. It was almost too much, she couldn’t get past the wonder of his mouth. When his hand moved down to cup her bottom, pulling her against him, she could do nothing but moan. Her body was out of her control, actually in his, and she couldn’t even think, let alone process what was happening. It was just sensation.
It stung, hurt, and burned in a way nobody ever talked about. Romance books made it sound all sweet and romantic but when Ari pushed inside her, despite the orgasm he gave her before hand and how wet she was, it hurt. He was sweet about it, muttering dirty Arabic in her ear while he helped her adjust to his size. Then she was back to being brain-numb, Ari pushing her body to levels it was probably not quite ready for but she didn’t care because it just felt good.
He was in love with her. Propped up on one arm, staring down at Dawn’s sleeping face, he knew with one hundred percent certainty that he was in love with her. It was not something he was comfortable with, not at all, but it was also not something that he could change. He should leave, sneak out while she was sleeping and cease all contact with her. In fact, he was ready to do so when she moved, one long leg throwing over his hip and her face rubbing against his chest. He couldn’t move then, didn’t want to.
He would stay with her despite the fact that he should not. This was not something that fit in the plans he’d made but he didn’t care. Because for the first time in his life, something was about him. Dawn was what he wanted and had nothing to do with his father or his self-proclaimed mission. For the first time since his father killed his mother, he felt some sort of peace and knew that only came because of her. It was too late to stop the plans he’d already put into motion but he could take a detour and spend some time with Dawn. Perhaps time was the solution to getting her out of his system.
“Where are you going?” Ari rumbled, his arm tightening around Dawn’s middle when she tried to move.
“Go back to sleep,” Dawn ordered, trying to wiggle away from him.
Ari pulled her closer, opening one eye to look at her. “Where are you going?”
“Close your eyes and at least pretend to be asleep,” Dawn said. “Please?”
“Very well, my love.“ He only did so because of the please, he found it very hard not to do something when she asked him to, mainly because she very rarely did. They’d been lovers for six months and he could say in one-hundred percent honesty it was the happiest he’d ever been. Dawn loved with her whole heart, without a bit of pretense or deception. He found it to be incredibly refreshing. He listened to her fiddle around in the bedroom, moving something heavy and playing with camcorder tripod if he wasn’t mistaken. He kept his eyes closed, even when she left the room, because he promised to do so. She returned a few minutes later, setting something down on the bed next to him.
“Sit up against the headboard,” Dawn said.
“You are being extremely bossy this morning,” Ari commented even as he sat up, back leaning against headboard. A move he was glad about when he was rewarded with a lapful of Dawn. He caught her lips in a deep kiss, chuckling against her mouth when she moaned.
“No, no, stop,” Dawn broke the kiss, smacking him on the arm. “Now, open your eyes.”
Smirking, Ari opened his eyes to find Dawn smiling brightly at him, a small chocolate cake balanced in one hand.
“Happy birthday, Ari,” Dawn chirped cheerfully, pressing a light kiss against his lips.
“You did not need to do this, my love,” Ari said, moved by her actions. He hadn’t celebrated a birthday since his mother was killed, his sister Ziva being the only person that even noted the date.
“I know,” Dawn said. “But I wanted to.”
“Thank you,” Ari kissed her forehead. “I love you.”
“Love you too,” Dawn pecked his cheek and then sat the cake on the table. “Now it’s time for prezzies.”
“Prezzies?” Ari arched a brow.
“You’re the one sleeping with the seventeen year old Californian,” Dawn reminded him. “Have you not adjusted to the brutalization of the English language yet?”
“I do not think that I ever will,” Ari said, no longer bothered by her age. He would admit when he first found out she was sixteen the first time they had sex (though according to her it was just barely because she turned seventeen two days later) he was very bothered by it but soon got over it. Dawn was not her age. She had the maturity and world experience of someone twice her age. He was selfish and loved her, he didn’t let himself focus on things such as age.
Dawn stuck her tongue out at him in that ridiculously bratty way that she had and then handed him a small box, leaning back against his chest, a larger box held against her own. “Open it.”
He slowly pulled the paper away, trying to remember the last time that he actually received a wrapped present. He was pretty sure it was years ago, when his baby half-sister Tali bought him a new Star of David necklace for his birthday. He still had the necklace, he never wore it but kept it tucked in his wallet at all times. Dawn was practically vibrating on his lap, seemingly more excited about his present than he was. He kissed her temple and then tore the paper away, revealing a framed photo. Of them. He remembered when Dawn took the picture, months ago after one of their many ’tickle fights’, one that Dawn won. He was lying on his back, laughing, with Dawn sprawled on top of him, also laughing. She snapped the picture with her cell phone before he even realized what she was doing and then emailed it to herself before he could erase it. She was beautiful in the picture, her face so sweet and open. “Thank you.”
“Welcome,” Dawn grabbed the picture and sat it on the table next to the cake. “And now for the real prezzie.” She handed him the bigger box, turning slightly to watch his reaction. “Open it.”
Ari tore the paper off quickly, mostly for her because she was rather impatient when she got excited. Under the paper was a white clothing box, taped shut at all ends. “Dawn?”
“What?” Dawn smiled at him in that innocent way that she had, making him laugh.
“You are a brat,” Ari said as he tore through the tape.
“But you love me anyways,” Dawn replied.
“Yes,” Ari pulled the top of the box off and then pulled back the tissue paper to reveal a leather jacket. It was a motorcycle jacket, shaded in red and black leather. It was top quality and he knew it to be highly expensive. “Dawn, this must have cost a small fortune.”
“We don’t talk money, remember?” Dawn said, hopping off him. “Try it on, I ordered a matching helmet, it hasn’t arrived yet.”
The jacket fit perfectly, like it was custom made for him. It was the best gift he’d received in a very long time. Grabbing Dawn’s hand, he pulled her against him. “Thank you, my love.”
“You’re welcome,” Dawn wrapped her arms around his neck. “Wanna turn off the camera and open your third prezzie?”
Ari laughed and then tossed her on the bed, crossing the room to turn off the camera and hang up his jacket. “I do not know, Dawn, not many things can top my new jacket.”
Dawn smiled at him, her eyes hooding in that way that he loved. “Looks like I have my work cut out for me.”
He showed softness toward Caitlin. Even after she tricked him by pretending to be another person, he showed softness. Because she reminded him of Dawn, whom he missed more than he could say. They did not look much alike but they had a similar attitude. They were both sarcastic, fearless, and not afraid to put him in his place. Bantering with Caitlin made him forget for a moment that Dawn was thousands of miles away. And that they were no longer together.
He missed Dawn so much at times it was hard to breathe. He hadn’t felt agony like that since his mother died and he spent a good week after he left her apartment, drunk in a hotel, unable to function. Even now, he was more robotic than human, his heart not in the mission that he set out for himself so long ago. Until Caitlin. She made him, if only for a few moments, not feel as though he was completely hollow inside. That feeling was fleeting and hours later he was back in his hotel, scotch in hand. He was a borderline alcoholic when he was lying and a full-fledge drunk when he was being honest. He just missed her. He missed everything about her, the way she smelt, the way she tasted, and the way she felt.
He no longer cared about his mission, he would follow it through because what else was left?
He was pretty sure eighty-percent of the reason that he shot Marta was because he slept with her. The sex was enjoyable, she knew what she was doing, but she wasn’t Dawn. Months had passed since he and Dawn broke up but he still missed her just as fiercely as that first week. He wondered how often Dawn thought of him, wondered if she was seeing anyone. He didn’t let those thoughts linger for very long, the thought of another man touching her made him want to kill. He killed when it was needed but generally did not enjoy killing anyone, he was usually very neutral about murder. But if he were to catch another man with Dawn he would deeply enjoy ripping the man limb from limb.
His father was proud of his accomplishment, not that Ari cared what his father thought. If his father only knew that he was actually a Hamas agent working undercover in Mossad. It would almost be worth blowing his cover just to see his father’s face but it was not time. He planned on completely bringing Eli David to his knees when it was revealed that his own son was a betrayer. That thought brought a smile to his face.
He was going to be a father. He wasn’t completely sure how far along Dawn was, he was guessing between six and seven months. She was safe now, tucked far away in Los Angeles where nothing of him could reach her.
He knew he made a mistake, he knew that now. He should have walked away from everything the moment he realized he was in love with Dawn. He could have made a life with Dawn. He could have had a real future, a family, but he couldn’t get past his need for revenge. It was too late now. He was close to being in with Al Qaeda and if he betrayed them now, they would not only kill him but everything he cared about. They would kill Dawn and his unborn child. He could not allow that. He had no choice but to play it out even if every part of him longed to find Dawn and run away with her, hiding away from the real world. That was not an option though, he could only protect her by staying as far away from her as he could.
Gibbs was Dawn’s father. He was the man that walked away from her and never looked back. Dawn did not discuss her biological father very often when they were together, only enough for him to know that he hurt her deeply. He would not tell Dawn that he found her father, he would never let the son-of-a-bitch that walked away from her without a second thought near her and their child. He would kill him instead.
For the first time since he found out he was going to be a father but would actually never get to be with his child, Ari actually felt something. Anger. He would torture NCIS Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs to the point of madness before killing him. It would not repair the emotional damage that the man did to Dawn, she would suffer with her ’daddy issues’ for the rest of her life, but it gave Ari a purpose, made him feel like he was doing something for his love and their child.
In the end, he always knew Ziva would be the one to stop him. His sister loved him but her moral beliefs were stronger than her love for him. She would kill her own brother if the reasons were just, he just hoped it wasn’t something that broke her. He still planned to kill Gibbs first, make his suffer, but he knew in the end, Ziva would be the one to stop him from doing more than that. He was okay with that, relieved actually. His father turned him into a monster and he should be stopped. He did not want Dawn to know what he was, what he let himself become, but he knew she would. He just hoped she didn’t let the man he was now erase the man he was when he was with her because they were two very different people.
Sitting in Gibbs’s basement, looking across the room at him, Ari was ready for it to be over. He would kill Dawn’s father because the man deserved it, though most of him wished the man at the other end of the barrel was his own father. That was not meant to be, he would just have to settle for the embarrassment that came when his father realized the monster he made.
In the end, past his own wants and desires, he knew the only good thing he’d ever done, the only good decision he ever made was walking away from Dawn and staying away. He was a miserable, sociopathic drunk of a man without her but he wasn’t what mattered, she was. Dawn and Elizabeth Tali being safe were the only things that mattered. And they would be safer if he were dead.
It would end here, in his ex-girlfriend’s bastard of a father’s basement. As he stared down the barrel at Gibbs, mocking the man that he wanted nothing more than to kill, he knew Ziva was only a room away, listening. His sister would end this all and that’s the way it should be. He would never hold his daughter or see Dawn again but it was for the best.
Because no matter what the fairy tales said, the beauty was never supposed to be in love with the beast.