Disclaimer: Everything Dawn related belong to Joss Whedon. Everything NCIS-esq belongs to Donald Bellisario and Co.
Ari Haswari was going to be the death of him. Or, more likely, he was going to be the death of Ari Haswari.
“Trent Kort?” A beautiful blonde receptionist said, a polite smile on her face.
“Yes,” he nodded, sliding a gold card across the counter. “Three nights, if I need the room for longer, when do I need to let someone know?”
“By ten am on the 3rd morning,” the girl replied. “I hope you have a nice stay at the Marriot.”
Trent nodded, taking this room key, and heading back towards the elevator. He had only been to Tel Aviv once before, when he was first introduced to the Mossad agent that he would be handling. That was two years ago, and though he did other work between being Ari Haswari’s handler, watching over the Mossad officer really was the most tiring assignment he’d ever been given.
Ari was brilliant, perhaps even the smartest person that Trent had ever met. But he had the emotional maturity of a teenage boy. First, and foremost, he went through women as if he were the last man on earth and he was attempting to repopulate the world. Secondly, he was prone to temper tantrums when he was upset, which usually occurred after speaking with his father. Thirdly, he went through his assignment as if it were a burden, and he had many better things to do. Lastly, he had a love affair with death that constantly made Trent think that it would not be Hamas that killed him, but parachuting or Bunge jumping, or some other thrill-seeking activity that he just had to try.
Which was what brought him to Tel Aviv when he should have been in Quantico, preparing for his next assignment. His days as Ari’s handler were almost done, the job would be handed over to another Mossad agent, Ziva David. Trent was sure that was not a smart move on Mossad’s behalf, Ziva was Ari’s little sister after all, but in reality, there was nothing Trent could do. At this stage in Ari’s undercover mission, it was best that Ari had little to no direct contact with the CIA or any of its affiliates. Trent was actually glad to be done of the babysitting duty, and onto a new undercover agent. Arms dealing was a rather interesting job and, being the handler of a French arms dealer would be more relaxing than babysitting a Mossad undercover agent. Now, all he had to do was figure out what exactly Ari was up to, the doctor had not checked in with him in a week, which while not uncommon, was rather annoying. Trent knew he was taking a reprieve from his mission to infiltrate Hamas to do something for his father, Trent just wasn’t sure what it was. Finally, growing frustrated, Trent tracked his cell phone to the Marriot hotel in Tel Aviv, and decided to figure out exactly what Ari was up to.
It was odd that Ari would be staying at a hotel, he could stay with his father or sister, and the fact that he picked a hotel that normally only saw American and European tourists was even more odd. While Ari loved women, beside bedding the occasional traveler, he was not one to mingle with tourists.
After dropping his bags off into his room, Trent followed the GPS location of Ari’s phone, a little startled that it led him to the Olympic-size pool. Ari was not one for relaxing by a pool, he seldom sat still for any length of time. Trent was often convinced Ari suffered from ADD. He found Ari lounged out next to the pool, cell phone in hand, speaking in angry Arabic. In fact, his tone was so terse that most people were giving his wide berth, something that always amused Trent. While Ari could be a bit abrasive, he was generally an easy-going guy, to a point.
Ari bit off a goodbye, Trent was almost positive though his Arabic was not very good, and then tossed the phone onto the table next to him. “Trent, to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“You haven’t checked in this week,” Trent took a seat beside him. “What exactly are you doing?”
“I believe the term is sunbathing,” Ari said. “You came all the way to Tel Aviv from America to check on me, I am touched.”
“What you are is a pain in my ass,” Trent said. “What are you doing?”
Before Ari could answer, a figure approached them, dripping water. She was beautiful, but much too young, and wearing a rather revealing swimming suit. Pale blue fabric barely cupped her pert breasts, a small triangle of fabric covering her ass. Long dark hair clung to her skin, and her skin was slightly pink from the sun. Before he could ask her what she needed, Ari tended to be rude when he was interrupted, the girl dropped down onto Ari’s lap, soaking the Mossad officer.
“Damn it, Dawn,” Ari grumbled, his arm wrapping around the girl’s waist (and she was a girl, Trent would bet she was no older than eighteen).
“What?” the girl tipped her head back, blue eyes twinkling mischievously.
“You are a pain in my ass,” Ari chuckled good-naturally, pressing a kiss against the girl’s forehead.
“But you love me anyways,” the girl said, her head turning to look at him. “So, Mr. CIA, it looks like we finally meet.”
“You told her?” Trent scowled.
“No,” Ari frowned down at the American in his lap. “My love, how exactly do you know who Trent is?”
“I’m a psychic, didn‘t I tell you?”
“Cute,” Ari nudged her. “This is not the place for this conversation. We shall go upstairs.”
“We shall, shall we?” she mocked Ari, making the Mossad officer scowl, and then smack her on the bottom. “You and the fascination with my butt.”
“If your bum did anything it was told….”
“Blah blah blah blah,” Dawn interrupted, pushing off the lounge chair. “I listen when what’s being said is important….so, nope, not all the time.”
Ari pinched the bridge of his nose, and then gestured for Trent to follow them into the hotel. He watched Ari with the girl as the moved, and it was rather astonishing to watch. Ari normally shied away from people, and yet he was hip to hip with the American girl, his arm wrapped around her waist, her body tucked against his chest. It was another odd addition to add to what has become Ari, a man Trent would truly never understand, no matter how long he knew him.
“Okay, the staring, getting a little freaky,” Dawn settled onto the chair across from Trent, her long, bare legs curling under herself. “I already told you how I knew who you were, which really, not that big of a deal, so why the staring?”
“You are not his type,” Trent said. “Ari prefers busty blondes with an IQ no larger than her breast size. You seem much too smart for Ari to sleep with.”
“I don’t know if you insulted me or complemented me,” Dawn frowned. “So, Ari’s a big manwhore, isn’t he?”
“Damn it, Dawn,” Ari grumbled as he stalked into the room.
“What, we both know you are,” Dawn stood up long enough for Ari to sit down and then plopped herself onto his lap.
“I have never charged nor bought sexual favors,” Ari boasted, the cocky man that Trent knew glaring at him over Dawn’s head. “There has never been a need.”
Dawn shrugged. “Just cuz you’ve never charged doesn’t mean you’re not a man whore. I mean, if I suddenly went off and slept with ten guys, you would call me a whore.”
“No, I would never call you such a thing,” Ari growled, his arm tightening around Dawn’s stomach. “As it would never happen. I would not allow it to happen.”
“Really, cuz out of the two of us here, I’m pretty sure I’m in charge of my girl parts,” Dawn grumbled.
“And I am pretty positive I would kill any man that attempted to touch said girl parts,” Ari’s voice was calm, and cold, and Trent knew without a doubt that he would follow through with his threat. And by the way that Dawn slightly tensed, she knew that also. “But enough of this talk, Trent, why are you here? Your term as my handler is almost through.”
“I was just checking up on you,” Trent said, noting the way Ari held Dawn. He’d seen Ari with women before, and while he was territorial in his pursuit, once he slept with a girl, he tossed them aside like little more than trash. That wasn’t true with Dawn, she was not one of the casual girls that Ari normally bedded. “I see that you have found…something to occupy yourself.”
Ari tensed again, the look crossing his face one that made Trent want to reach for a weapon he didn’t have.
“Do not look at her that way, nor refer to her in such a manner,” Ari said coldly, his chin resting on Dawn’s shoulder.
“Stop being a butt,” Dawn elbowed him. “I’m sure he’s just all shocked, because hello, teenage American girl, not at all your type. Cut him some slack.” She started to stand, only stopped due to Ari’s arm tightening. “Ari, I need to breathe.”
“I am sorry, my love,” Ari loosened his arm. “Where exactly are you going?”
“To take a shower,” Dawn leaned down to peck him on the forehead. “Then we’re going out.”
“We?” Ari asked.
“Me, you, and Trent,” Dawn replied. “He’s your friend, or as close to one as you have, so that means we need to bond.” That said, Dawn trotted off down the hall, her hips swaying in an innocent but sensual way, one that he couldn’t help but notice.
“She is beautiful, no?” Ari asked, standing up to pour them a drink.
“Yes,” Trent agreed with a nod.
“And she is mine,” Ari said. “I meant what I said. I will kill any man that tries to touch her, even you.”
Trent grabbed Dawn’s arm, thrusting her behind his body as he watched Ari stalk forward, the Mossad officer’s body tense with deadly intent.
“I should have learned a long time ago to stay in on my birthday,” Dawn muttered, trying to get around his body.
Trent kept her behind him, as deadly in his intent to protect Dawn as Ari was, though he was inclined to let the younger man deal out the violence. Trent preferred to keep things clean, bullet being the easiest way to deal with a situation, while Ari had no qualms getting his hands dirty if necessary. And a man putting his hands on Dawn deserved to be dealt with in a violent, messy way.
“Trent, he’s going to kill him,” Dawn said, the horror in her voice making Trent pause. She was right, Ari had yet to even touch the other man, but the intent was there. “You have to stop him.”
“I am not leaving you,” Trent said, blocking her from moving around him again. Ari said something to the bartender, and like that, was given free reign to boldly drag the man that assaulted Dawn out of the bar.
“He grabbed my ass, yes, and it upset me,” Dawn grabbed his arm. “But I don’t want him to die over it and we both know that….I love Ari but we both know what he’s capable of doing. I don’t want some guy dying because of me.”
Trent sighed, knowing that if Ari did indeed kill the man as he most likely planned to, Dawn would be the one to suffer because of it. The guilt would literally eat away at her until she turned into something he did not want to see her become. She was too good for that. She was too good for all of this. For Ari. And for him.
He never met to fall in love with her, never even considered the possibility of it happening. He spent a few days with them in Tel Aviv, and he thought that would be it, but then she invited him to come to a surprise birthday party she was throwing for Ari. It turned out to be just the three of them, she didn’t want to invite his father, and didn’t invite any of her own friends. They were living in Cambridge at that point, or more accurately Dawn was living in Cambridge, with Ari spending every moment he was not actively working with her. Despite the fact that he was technically working on another assignment, he spent a week with Ari and Dawn, and continued to drop in to see them when his schedule would permit. And having been stationed in France with an arm’s dealer, his schedule was clear to visit Cambridge on a semi-regular basis. He got to know Ari in a way he hadn’t before, as a friend and not as an informant that he was ‘babysitting’. Ari was as brilliant as he always believed, but also extremely funny, and a very good cook. He was also unconditionally, and completely in love with Dawn, to the point that he couldn’t see straight when it came to the American teenager. Trent could understand the sentiment.
She was much too young, for either of them. He would like to say that she was much too innocent, and sexually, he knew that Ari was the only man she’d ever been with, but she wasn’t innocent. He could see it in her eyes, the weariness, the complete understanding of the reality of the world. But she was still a good person, and Ari killing some man for barely touching her would haunt her for the rest of her life. With a sigh, he tucked her against his side, knowing with absolute certainty that this was the closest he would ever get to her; he let that knowledge rush over him. The smell of her sweet skin, how soft she felt, and how perfect she fit against him.
“Trent?” Dawn said hesitantly, her body tense.
“You will stay next to me,” Trent ordered. “If I tell you to leave, you will come back into this bar and wait for me, understand?”
“Trent, you’ve known me for a year, do I ever take orders?” Dawn glared up at him.
“Dawn, you might think you know what Ari is capable of, but I do know what he’s capable of,” Trent said. “I do not want you to witness it, and neither would he. If you can not calm him down, then I will do it alone.”
“He’ll kill you, Trent,” Dawn whispered, her blue eyes wide. “In a fight, you know he’d win.”
“I know,” Trent agreed. “But it will not come to that.” He had a gun, and he would shot the other man (not kill him), if it came down to it.
Dawn let him lead her out of the bar, her tiny body shaking enough that he ended up draping his jacket over her shoulders. The walk outside was quick, and the scattering of people told him that Ari was indeed making a mess of things. Sure enough, Ari had the other man pinned against the wall, fist delivering brutal punches meant to inflict as much pain as possible. And given the cries the other man was giving, Trent knew Ari had indeed inflicted possibly irresolvable damage to the man that groped Dawn.
He should have been prepared for Dawn to disobey him, she very rarely did what ordered, and run down the alley as quick as her heels would allow her, but he was not. Given the height of her heels, though, she should not have escaped him so quickly.
“Ari, stop it,” Dawn cried, reaching for his arm.
Ari tensed, his arm drawn back to hit the other man, but it loosened when Dawn’s hand grabbed his arm. “Get her out of here.”
“Damn it, Ari, stop it,” Dawn ordered, tugging at his arm. “Don’t do this.”
“He touched you,” Ari growled, turning to look at her. Trent was not prepared for how violent Ari looked, and given the way Dawn actually jumped back, neither was she. He looked like a monster, but not one you would read about in horror books. No, instead he looked like the devil, wrapped in a handsome man that could kill someone as easily as he could cross the street. Something Trent was thinking that Dawn never truly realized before. “I will not allow that.”
“Please don’t,” Dawn whispered, tears filling her eyes. “Don’t do this. If you love me, don’t do this. Please, Ari, don‘t do this. For me, don‘t, please.”
Trent was sure the tears where what broke Ari, as they made him want to do anything to keep her from crying, and the tears weren’t even aimed at him. Ari walked away from the man like he was garbage, crossing the small distance between them to gather Dawn into his arms. She clung to him, her body shaking as she cried into his shoulder. Ari quickly swung her up into his arms, his eyes lifting to find his.
“I will take care of it,” Trent assured him. “Take her home.”
“Yes,” Ari sent him a meaningful look. “As she is mine to take care of.”
Trent was actually scared in that moment, afraid what Ari would do to him. He had almost killed a man for just touching Dawn’s ass, what would he do to one for falling in love with her?
“Thank you, though,” Ari said, walking past him with Dawn in his arms. “For protecting her when I did not.”
It was odd, almost like Ari was not acknowledging the fact that he knew Trent cared about Dawn as more than a friend, even though Trent knew he did know. Trent wasn’t sure what that meant, but he was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
Trent yawned, dropping his keys on the table by the door as he walked through his small but functional apartment.
“You work very late now, with, ‘the frog’?”
Trent reached for his weapon, but only out of instinct. He knew if his visitor truly wanted him dead, he would have been before he crossed the threshold of his apartment. “What are you doing here, Ari?”
“As you are, I am working.”
Trent flicked the switch next to him to flood the living room in rich light, revealing Ari on his couch, a glass of whiskey in his hand. And an empty bottle on the table in front of him. That was odd, especially for Ari. Trent could never remember seeing him have more than a few shots of whiskey, he was too much of a control freak to get drunk. But Trent knew he must be, because the empty bottle was half full when he left this morning, and it was very good quality alcohol.
“You know what I meant here, in my home,” Trent tossed his tie on to the table next to the bottle, and then collapsed down on the recliner across from Ari. “How did you know where I lived?” His apartment in D.C. wasn’t in his name, and not one that he stayed in very often. Due to his new assignment, most of his time was spent in France.
“I’ve always known,” Ari waved off the question, like it wasn’t important. But it was, Trent prided himself on being relatively good at keeping himself hidden when need be. “That is not why I am here.”
“Why are you here?” Trent grabbed the decanter of scotch he kept next to his recliner, and poured himself a few fingerfuls. “I haven’t heard from you since you told me to not contact Dawn last year, in anyway, shape, or form.”
“And that is why I am here,” Ari nodded to the manila envelope and box sitting on his table. “I need you to do something for me.”
“What makes you think I will?” Trent asked.
“Because you love her, maybe as much as I do,” Ari said, nodding to the decanter. “May I?”
“Yes,” Trent nodded without thinking, unsure why he was still alive. Ari and Dawn might not be together anymore, but that did not mean Ari did not consider her his. He would until the day he died. “I am not sure what to say.”
“You did not deny it,” Ari smirked, the only showing of how much he’d drunk being the dilation of his eyes. “I am impressed.”
Trent shrugged, still unsure what to say.
“I just saw her, for the first time in almost a year,” Ari said, the look on his face almost painful to look at. Ari looked, in one word, tortured. “We have a child.”
“What?” Trent exclaimed, glass slamming onto the table with enough force to crack it. “Dawn has a baby?”
“Yes, she had a baby, mine,” Ari said. “A little girl, beautiful. Her name is Elizabeth Tali.”
“After your sister,” Trent mumbled, completely shocked.
“And hers, in a way,” Ari said.
“Why are you here, why aren’t you with her?” Trent demanded. “You have a child, an obligation….”
“Don’t pretend you don’t know what my mission entails,” Ari interrupted angrily. “Do you know Hamas would do to her, if they knew? Trust me, you so not want to know. I am on the verge of infiltrating a Al-Qaeda cell, I will not have her anywhere near that. Nor will I have my father knowing of my child’s existence. He will not turn her into a weapon as he has Ziva. I will not allow that.”
“That still does not explain why you are here,” Trent said.
“There is a high chance I will die before the week is out,” Ari said, taking a sip of the scotch.
“Which would explain why you drank most of my liquor,” Trent said.
Ari laughed. “No, that is because I prefer to be drunk these days. It is uncanny how easily one can function completely wasted if that is how they spend the majority of their time. And I have spent the majority of my time wasted since I left Oxford.”
“Left Dawn,” Trent corrected.
“Yes,” Ari agreed. “I never understood the concept of a phantom limb, but that is what Dawn is to me. She is the largest part of me, suddenly ripped away. Drugs only lessen the pain, alcohol, however, completely numbs it. For the most part.”
It was a side of Ari no one but Dawn had ever seen, the vulnerable side. And Trent was only seeing it because Ari was drunk, and convinced that he would be dead soon. “You want me to do something.”
“No, I want you not to do something,” Ari nodded to the table. “Those are the remains of my relationship with Dawn, some photos, a video, notes. You will hold them, safely, until the time that they should be given to Dawn.”
“Which is when you die?” Trent asked, curiously looking at the envelope. He couldn’t help but wonder what exactly was inside, and if he should look. The videos would not contain anything of the intimate nature, Ari would not let anyone see Dawn like that.
“No,” Ari shook his head. “When the time is right.”
“How the hell am I supposed to know when the time is right?” Trent demanded, a drunk Ari suddenly as difficult to deal with as a sober one.
“Ziva is in town, in the United States for the first time in a many years,” Ari said, thumbing the rim of his glass.
“Okay,” Trent said, unsure of what that had to do with anything.
“She would make a wonderful aunt,” Ari said. “She would protect my child almost as well as I would.”
Trent just nodded, still having no idea where this was going.
“You will keep an eye on Dawn, but do not let her know that you are doing so,” Ari said. “Make sure nothing of my past ever touches my child or Dawn.”
“I can do that,” Trent nodded, quite agreeing with the sentiment. Protecting Dawn was something that he would do, even without Ari telling him to.
“You have heard of six degrees of separation, have you not?” Ari asked.
“Yes, the theory that every person is six people or less from any other person in the world,” Trent nodded.
“Yes,” Ari said. “If that is true, perhaps there will be a time when Dawn and Ziva are less than six people away from one another.”
“I’m not sure….are you wanting me to rely on fate?” Trent asked in disbelief.
“Yes, I think I am,” Ari nodded. “If they are to ever meet, than that is when Ziva needs to know that she is an aunt and when you shall give those things to Dawn.”
“You really are relying on fate,” Trent laughed.
“Yes, perhaps there is a part of my religion that I do adhere to,” Ari laughed. “Or perhaps I have gone mad. I am not sure anymore. I just know I want to keep Elizabeth and Dawn happy and safe. That is all I care about.”
Trent nodded, wanting the same thing. Dawn’s happiness and safety were the only thing that he cared about above his own. And Ari knew that, which was why he asked him to do this. Because he knew Trent would, without hesitation.
Trent was fairly sure that was why he was still alive, because Ari knew that if he were gone, Trent would protect Dawn in his place. What could else could he do, he was, after all, in love with her.