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SPOILERS: "Bete Noir"

By Geonn


I wonder how someone can be racist. Such useless anger and hatred, based on the color of someone's skin or the way they choose to live. I've spent the last twenty minutes hating the woman next to me at the bar simply because she's Israeli. Because her accent reminds me of His.

I don't even know his name. Maybe it would be better if I did. If I had a tag to place on him and say, "This is who you are. You're not the devil, you're not evil personified." As it was, he was a shadowy, evil face that flitted across my vision as soon as I lay down to sleep.

The woman next to me clears her throat and asks again if she can buy me a drink. I politely decline and, as personably as I can, tell her that this isn't a gay bar. "A drink is a drink," she says, smiling enigmatically. "It's my fault you associate drinks with sex?"

I roll my eyes and shift forward on my stool. One more drink and I'd be gone. It was all I could do not to ask her to move. Or, hell, I'll move. I slipped off the stool, offered her a smile and made my way to the back of the bar. I'm alone at the jukebox when she slips up behind me like a cat, her heat against my back. I turn and glare at her, but she speaks first.

"I am sorry."

"Don't be sorry," I say, forcing a smile. "Be elsewhere."

She smiled, ducking her head a little. A wave of curly black hair covered half of her face and she seemed like an angel for a moment. "I remind you of someone."

"Special Agent Caitlin Todd."

I close my eyes and look back at the jukebox. Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Chicago. I flip mindlessly through the catalogue and I feel her hand on my shoulder. When I turn to look at her again, there are tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry. For what he did."

I focus on her more clearly now. She was Israeli, the terrorist's body was delivered from the Israeli embassy... "Do you know who he is?" I ask quietly.

"I have no idea," the woman claimed. "But I can see that you don't arbitrarily hate, as so many do. I can see that I remind you of someone that you would rather forget. And... for that, I am sorry." She hesitates a moment and then turns to disappear into the crowd.

I put my hand on her elbow and stop her before she can leave.

Caitlin fell asleep facedown, her breasts pillowed against the mattress. I run my hand down her spine, feeling the soft flesh against my fingertips one last time before I get out of her bed.

Before pulling my shirt on, I look at my upper chest. Several bite marks redden the flesh, but they will fade before morning. I had tried to convince her to punch me, to hurt me... but she had refused. Biting, marking my flesh, was as far as she would go. I finish dressing and look once more at the bed where Caitlin is sleeping.

"An American federal agent," I can still hear the chuckle in Ari's voice. "I put the weapon in her hand. She got..." He held up two fingers and shook his head. "I was actually worried for a moment. But she moved too slowly. I wanted her to harm me... she wanted me to stop her."

"Americans," he'd laughed. "Are weak."

I wiped my knuckle across my cheek, brushing off a tear as I carried my shoes from Caitlin Todd's bedroom. I should never have sought her out. I should have let sleeping dogs lie, should have let the past be. But I couldn't. I couldn't ignore what he'd done to her, what he had inflicted upon her so gleefully. Ari, without spilling a drop of blood, had wounded this woman so deeply.

I pull my leg up, resting the ankle on my knee. Pushing down my sock, I stroke the butterfly tattoo I received when I was twelve. I would not allow Ari to go unpunished.

Ari rolled over in his sleep and brushed a hand over his face. Some phantom of the night, some insect that had slipped in through his bedroom window, had alighted upon his cheek. He sighed and pulled his thin sheet higher, trying to keep the bug from disturbing his sleep.

Another bug landed lightly on his forehead and he batted at it, eyes open and furious. Who had left a window open?

He sat up and groped at the bedside for his lamp. More bugs flittered across his bare arm; it was a pestilence! Perhaps it had been Qassam; there would be hell to pay in the morning if...

The lamp came on and Ari froze.


His heart pounded and he kicked at the blankets. His bed was covered with them. His room was filled with yellow, red, orange, white, purple monarch butterflies. They were huge, some were tiny enough to crawl into his pajama legs, some were in his hair. He leapt from the bed and hit the bedroom door, finding it locked and barricaded from the other side. "No," he gasped, slapping at the wood. "No!"

Butterflies swarmed his back and he knew who was responsible. "Ziva! Zona! Let me out of here! Ziva! Ziva!!"


Ducky: "Surely you understand the power of phobias."
Ari: "Butterflies."
Ducky: "Sorry?"
Ari: "I fear butterflies."

-- "Bete Noir"

The End

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