Yaniv Bodnar was there when Tali died. She had an opera audition, at the Tel Aviv opera house. She had not told anyone but Yaniv, not wanting to get Ziva’s hopes up. Yaniv had told her he would drive her, but he had failed his driving test that very morning, so they had to take the bus.
The look of disappointment when he handed her the bus ticket, would haunt him for years. He smiled at her, dressed in a black dress, her hair neatly pulled aside, and a grey backpack on her back, because she was still sixteen, and they still had an algebra test, to pass the following week.
Yaniv did not mind the bus ride, he loved sitting next Tali, as her body hummed with nerves. A tiny bit of her curly hair kept coming loose, as she pretended to read. He loved her, and had loved her for a long time. She was the only one in the mess of his life, who got him. She wanted peace, and like him believed violence would not bring about peace.
A woman with a bulge under her loose clothes stepped onto the full bus, and Tali urged Yaniv to move, so the woman could sit. The woman smiled, as Yaniv moved from the back of the bus, to the middle by the door.
He caught Tail’s smile toward the young Muslim woman, just before a loud explosion echoed in the bus.
He woke up in the middle of the road, the smell of burning flesh around him, and screams. He watched as people gathered around, and the ambulance's wailed.
“Tali,” he called out desperately, before the pain got too much and his eyes closed again.
He was woken again by shaking and Ziva’s voice. This time he smelt burning flesh, but also disinfectant. His brother was shouting at Ziva. Yaniv felt pain radiate through him, and as his eyes opened, he saw his arm wrapped in bandages, and realized some of the burning flesh was his own.
“Where is Tali?” Ziva asked, her voice urgent, and her eyes bulging with tears. “I have to find Tali,”
“She was on the bus, Ziva,” Ilan cried out, as he pulled Ziva from Yaniv, “Stop harassing my brother,”
“Tell me Yaniv,” Ziva cried, as an orphan tear fell down her face. “Tell me she was not on that bus,”
“She was,” Yaniv whispered, nodding his head and letting tears fall down his face. His mother, who had been silent sat next to him, wrapped her hand over her face.
Ziva’s mouth fell open ready to scream, Eli David appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and wrapped his arms around his daughter, and they sobbed desperately.
He caught a glimpse of Ziva during the funeral, she was dressed in a black dress, and her face was still. She stood next to Eli, who remained stoic. Ari stood in the back, the kippa not quite sitting right on his head.
They had nothing to bury, a sea of saddened faces watched a empty coffin get lowered into the ground.
His mother was the only one who sat Shiva properly. Yaniv watched as everyone else fell to pieces, and gave into vices. Eli spent four days, sitting on the balcony with a succession of joints, and bottles of brown liquor. A woman named Orli, who walked like all the Mossad officers brought food from the supermarket and tried to speak with Eli, Eli did not say a thing, or respond to her touching him. Ari let Deena Bashan from across the hall give him sympathy in the most biblical was possible. Yaniv accidentally walked in on them, Ari’s eyes were dead, as Deena knelled before him.
Ziva went on runs for hours, coming back to the apartment wheezing, and legs aching. Each day she would find a new thing to punch. Sometimes, Ari would place himself in front of her, and beg her to punch him. Ziva would throw a few punches, before Ari’s arms wrapped around her.
The one thing, Yaniv was glad for is that Rivka did not live to see this, having died just eighteen months before.
“They need revenge,” Ilan declared as he sat next to his brother, watching the family disintegrate. “We all need revenge,”
“Tali would not have wanted that,” Yaniv whispered but Ilan was already gone.
On the fifth day of Shiva, Eli and Ziva were gone, grieving while putting pins in a map, and tracking Hamas.He never saw Ziva again, Ilan occasionally mentioned that members of Hamas had been killed in relation to the bombing. Yaniv felt the knots twist in his stomach.
He visited Ziva again, five years later, in the summer of 2006. She had moved to America, by then. He was almost a year out of the Army, and his mother had recently died after a long battle with cancer. He told Ilan, he was traveling before going to university. Yaniv. had no intention of going back to Israel. His visit to D.C was just for a night, before he went to the Grand Canyon, and then maybe to California. He did not care, where he went, as long as it was far away.
Ziva greeted him at the airport with a smile, and a hug. A hug he wondered if deserved. He studied her, as she let go, and they stood in front of each other for a second, admiring what the years had done. He wondered what Tali would like now, if her hair would be like Ziva’s, if she would be as tall.
“It is good to see you,” Ziva uttered, slipping into Hebrew, “I was so sorry to hear about your mother,”
Yaniv wanted to say the same words for Ari, but knew from Ilan, that Ari had gone rouge, so he smiled and nodded.
They went to her home, which is a small apartment in Silver Spring, it is spartanly decorated, except for the kitchen, which had herbs hanging from baskets, and a slow cooker filled with couscous. The only other decoration was on top of a stand up piano, which had a pile of books in various languages, and a collection of photographs. He admired them as Ziva prepared for dinner; some of the photographs were new, and some old. He spied tucked in the back, a photograph of the David and Bodnar children, at some time in the early 1990s.
“That’s my favorite one,” Ziva declared as she retrieved the Shabbat candles from the cabinet.
They lit the candles, and the blessings shakily echoed in the apartment. She handed him wine, which felt old, as he still felt so young around her. The stories of their shared past, fall easily from their lips. They laughed, and bickered over the true nature of events. The conversation, slipped to their mothers, in particular Yaniv’s mother’s last days.
“She told me things,” Yaniv declared, as Ziva opened another bottle of wine.
“Impending death changes perspectives,” Ziva whispered, as she poured the wine.
She remembered Aviva Bodnar with a smile. The David's, Bodnar's and Bashans had all lived in the same apartment building. Aviva and Rivka David had bonded over their semi-single parent status. Rivka had always had a bit of superiority in those stakes, as duty kept Eli away, but for Aviva it was money, and money alone had kept Yakov Bodnar away from his family. Ziva had always felt that made Yakov Bodnar, a worse father, but now she was not so sure.
“She told me, she slept with your father,” Yaniv uttered, as he did Ziva gulped the whole glass of wine, and placed the empty glass on the table.
“My father has done some horrible things,” Ziva declared with cold indifference, her hand reached for the bottle, and poured a glass of wine effortlessly. “Did she say when it happened?”
“1991,” Yaniv declared, he watched as Ziva did the maths in her head. “She must have told my Father, because that's the year before they divorced,”
“My parents separated for a while in 1991,” Ziva declared, trying to rationalize it. Yaniv wondered if he should have told her.
“He did not visit her when she was sick,” Yaniv blurted out. “Not even once,”
“Like I said, my father has done some horrible things,” Ziva whispered, as she took Yaniv’s hand, “I would rather not talk about this any longer,”
They stewed in silence as Ziva finished the glass of wine she had poured, she then got up and moved toward her stereo, and a familiar opera filled the apartment. They both closed their eyes, and shared memories of Tali.
“She loved you,” Ziva whispered a couple of hours later, as she handed him a blanket so he could sleep on her couch. “She did,”
Yaniv woke in the early hours of the morning, on Ziva’s rather uncomfortable couch, to hear Ziva on the phone.
“Yes Tony,” Ziva uttered into the phone, as she walked out of the bedroom, pulling a white t-shirt over her head, in the process she put the phone on speaker. “I will be there in one hour, maybe two. I have to drop someone off first. Besides I thought it was our weekend off?”
“Cassidy's team wanted to swap, one of them is getting married or something,” Agent DiNozzo’s declared, over the crackly speaker, “So you’re not going to introduce us to your new boyfriend then?”
Yaniv slowly sat up, smelt the wine on his breath, and felt the pounding in his head. It was going to be an agonizingly long flight to Arizona. Ziva handed him a glass of water and a packet of aspirin.
“Tony it is not like that,” Ziva shouted to the speaker, as she fixed her hair, plaiting it. “He is an old friend, and besides he is too young for me,”
“I’ll leave you to your cradle-robbing, Officer David,” Agent DiNozzo declared, “But if you’re so much as a minute later than 1000, you’re doing everyone's paperwork, even Agent Lee’s,”
“Goodbye, Tony,” Ziva declared as the line went dead. Yaniv smirked as Ziva picked up the phone, and slipped it into the pocket of her cargo pants.
Yaniv smiled again, as they pulled up to the drop off zone at the airport, mostly because Ziva had stopped driving, so he no longer felt like he was going to throw up.
“Yaniv,” Ziva whispered, as he moved to get out of her mini, trying desperately to keep his stomach contents inside of him. He turned back to face her.
“Yes,” he uttered, as Ziva’s hand grabbed his.
“Please make something of yourself,” Ziva uttered, “She would have wanted that.”
Yaniv smiled, as Ziva let go. Within seconds, she had driven off, a symphony of angry car horns behind her, and Latin dance music seeping from her car.
She seemed older than she had been just days before in Berlin, when she visited him in the American high security prison. Her hair is pulled back in a tight plait, her face has purple bruise forming on her face. He can see the anger in her eyes.
He watched her as she sat down and picked up the phone. He faced her through the glass, the orange uniform baggy on him.
“It is over, Yaniv,” she whispered, as Yaniv’s eyes remained down, looking at the counter, “Ilan is dead,”
Yaniv head shot up out of anger, but Ziva had dropped the phone, walked out of the visiting room with Agent DiNozzo’s arm wrapped around her.
The prison cell felt cramped, as Yaniv lay in it alone. He was completely alone, and only realized it then. He reached for the orange overall, pulled it off, and covered his face in it. He kicked out as he pressed too hard, but held his breath tighter.
The man from the Israeli embassy who organized transport for the two Bodnar bodies, wanted so desperately to joke about a two for one deal, but held his tongue.