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Out of the Ashes

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Gibbs walked in the bullpen early this morning a coffee in the hand to meet his team already working at their desks.

« We have a dead marine. Grab your gear. I’ll explain on the way »

They all ran to the elevator. Once the doors closed, Gibbs started to talk.

“Elijah Riven, an Israeli who became an American citizen 6 years ago, engaged in the Navy, found dead in his garage, a bullet in the head”

“I knew him”

Ziva had spoken in a low voice, not looking up. Her three co-workers stared at her without saying anything, waiting for her to explain.

“He was part of the Mossad, we trained together, and we were sent in the same missions, twice”

“Sorry for your loss, do you think you can handle the crime scene or should I send Agent Lee instead of you ?”

“I’ll be fine, it’s not like if it was the first time !”

They were at the truck by now and DiNozzo offered to drive and they arrived at the crime scene twenty minutes later. Ducky and Jimmy were already there waiting for them to start.

The body was on the floor, eyes wide open staring at the ceiling, without seeing anything, blood pooling under his head from the hole that the bullet left in his forehead. Ducky started working, estimating the time of death at four or five hours ago. Tony and Ziva were looking for evidences or fingerprints while Tim asked some questions to the neighbor who found the body earlier that morning.

“I found something” Tony said, a box in his hand. “It’s for us”

Indeed, “NCIS” was written in black letters on the top of the box.

“Be careful with it, we’ll open it when we get back to the headquarters” Gibbs said.

Half an hour later, they had finished with the crime scene and returned to the squadroom, all the evidences collected in plastic bags.

“Take all of this to Abby, and ask her to come here then, we still have to open that box “

Time went down to the lab and returned a few minutes later, soon followed by Abby”

“Tim said it was important, and I hope it is because those fingerprints are waiting for me”

Gibbs didn’t answer and placed the mysterious box on his desk. He took his knife and started to cut the top of it. Inside the box, he found a letter, with a name on it.

“Ziva, it’s for you.”

He handed her the envelop and she looked at it, and then opened it. There was a piece of paper, with a text in Hebrew that only Ziva could understand.

“What does it say?” Tony asked. He has never been patient.

“It says that I know who the killer is, and we have to watch these films to find out who his next victim is, because she or he is in it.”

Tim took out of the box three dvd’s with each a tag on. The first one said “Ziva, 0 to 10 years old”, the second one “Ziva, 10 to 20 years old” and the third one “Ziva, 20 to 24 years old”

“No, it has to be some kind of sick joke! It cannot be my life in videos. “

“I think it is” said Gibbs “And we have to look at it”

“No you can’t, I won’t let you”

“You don’t have a choice” said a voice coming from upstairs. They all looked up to see Director Shepard looking at them. She had seen it all  from upstairs. “We will run them in MTAC”

“No, no it is not possible it’s my life and it has nothing to do with you !”

“Do you prefer that another innocent dies ?”

Ziva stayed silent for a second before answering Jenny’s question

“No, of course not!”

“Well, so I expect you in MTAC in five. Take Ducky with you we’ll need him for that and Abby you should come too, you could be helpful.”

Once the director left, Ziva sat at her desk, head on her hands. They didn’t understand that her life was not the happiest, and she just could not handle reliving some parts of it.

“You will not like what you will see. And I am sorry you have to watch this”

“Ziva we won’t think any less of you, no matter what you did. What is in the past stays in the past” Tony said in a comforting voice.

While they were talking, Tim went down to bring Ducky. He explained the situation to the doctor in the elevator. When they walked back in the bullpen, Ducky put a hand on the young Israeli’s shoulder.

“I am really sorry, my dear”

Once that said, they all stood up and Tony, Tim, Abby, Gibbs, Ziva and Ducky walked to the MTAC where Jenny was waiting for them. They all sat down on the first and second ranks, except for Ziva who took place on the last rank, against the wall. Tim put the first dvd on and a picture appeared on the screen. He pressed play and the film started.

A woman was holding a baby in her arms. She seemed to be around 25 and had brown hair and brown eyes. She looked a lot like Ziva. She was sat on a bed and humming a lullaby to the baby sleeping peacefully against her chest.

“Welcome to the world, little Zivaleh.”

The baby opened her big brown eyes and looked at her mother. Her hands reached for a stray of hair and held it in her little fist. The door of the room opened, a man and a little boy came in.

They all recognized Eli David, but didn’t know the boy at his side, who seemed to be around 4 years old.

The boy ran to the bed side and looked at the woman sat on it.

“Abba said I was a big brother now, is that true?”

Abby turned to Ziva with a surprised expression on her face.

“I didn’t know you had a brother, Ziva ?”

“None of you did, except Gibbs but you’ll soon understand why I didn’t tell you about him and you will hate me for that !”

“Don’t be silly, it’s not because you didn’t tell us about your brother that we will hate you”

Ziva didn’t answer and put her head on her knees that she held close to her chest.

“Yes darling, that’s your baby sister, Ziva.”

“Shalom, Ziva, I love you !”

“Awe, that’s so cute !” Abby said with a pout on her face

Eli also stood by the bed, staring at his daughter. He looked at his son and lifted him up to sit on the bed next to his sister.

“She is beautiful, can I hold her ?”

“Of course be careful with her head.”

He held the baby in his arms, pacing slowly in the room. After a couple of minutes, he handed her back to her mother who yawned tiredly.

“It’s time to go Ari, Ima and Ziva are tired, we have to let them rest.”

“No I want to stay.

“Ari” sighed Eli

“Okay, can we come back tomorrow?”

“I promise we will”

Ari kissed Ziva’s forehead and jumped off the bed, following his father.

“Bye, Ima, bye Ziva !”

The door closed and the screen became black.

Everyone in MTAC was shocked by what they saw. McGee was the first to put two and two together.

“Your brother’s name was Ari ? Just like the guy who killed Kate ? Wait, is it… Him ??”

“Yes” Ziva said before hiding her face behind her hands, waiting for their reactions about what they saw.

Everyone began to speak at the same time, questioning Ziva. Only Jenny, Gibbs and Ducky stayed quiet. Jen and Gibbs because they already knew and Ducky because he understood why the Israeli didn’t tell anyone about him and he felt so sorry for her. They had lost a friend, but she had lost a brother too.

“Look, Ari was my brother, I loved him very much and I am not responsible for what he became and what he did so please, can we just go on to finish because I really do not want to stay here all my life” Ziva said in a low voice almost threatening.

Everyone went quiet and McGee pressed play again. A new scene of Ziva’s life started.

Two children were playing in a street. They were running and throwing an apple to each other, instead of a ball. Ziva and Ari were both bare feet, but they didn’t seem to mind.

The team had never seen their youngest agent like this, so carefree and happy.

Her eyes showed joy and happiness. She was laughing, and her brown long locks were flying around her.

Ziva remembered that time. She was five, Ari was eight and she loved playing with her brother. Tali was born two years ago and she was too young to play with them.

Ari threw the apple at her. It hit her in the back, causing her to fall on the ground, scratching her knee. She didn’t even stop laughing and stood up. The little girl smoothed her white dress with her hand. Without looking at her knee, she took the apple from the floor and threw it back to her brother, hitting him in the arm.

“So young and already a ninja” Tony said, causing Abby and McGee to laugh, Jenny and Gibbs to sigh and Ducky to smile. They all focused again on the screen.

The two kids were still running when a door opened and their mother went outside, looking for them.

“Ziva, I need you to help me with Tali for a moment please !”

“Yes Ima, I’m coming”

“Ari, your father is waiting for you in the basement. He said that you hadn’t finished your training for today.”

Ari rolled his eyes and walked to his mother, followed by his little sister. He went down the stairs and Ziva went in the kitchen with her mother.

“Oh, Ziva, look at your knee, it’s bleeding. Let me clean it up a little”

She lifted the girl and sat her on the table. She took a tissue and wetted it. She began to clean to blood but had to stop for a minute. She turned around and coughed. She didn’t want her daughter to see that there was blood in her hands when she took them away from her mouth. She cleaned her hand and went back to Ziva who was still sitting on the table.

“Are you okay, Ima ?”

“Yes darling, I’m fine don’t worry about me.”

“But I don’t like when you are hurting”

“It’s nothing I promise”

She finished cleaning her knee and put her on the floor.

“Tali is in the living room. I need you to keep her busy while I’m cooking. I don’t want her to get hurt”

“Yes Ima”

Rivka David kissed her daughter’s forehead and stepped out of the room, letting Ziva alone in the kitchen.

The screen went black.

“I loved these moments with him, we used to play in the street every night after school, when we didn’t have trainings with Abba. It was so… I don’t know, it felt so good “ Ziva said. She seemed far away from the team, lost in her thoughts.

“When did you… When did your start training for Mossad ?” Abby asked hesitantly

“I guess you will find out soon enough, I really don’t need to tell you” Ziva said, pointing the screen with her hand

“Well, I guess you’re right “

“Girls stop talking, I want us to finish it as soon as we can !”

“Yes Gibbs, sorry”

“Do not apologize…”

“It’s a sign of weakness, we know…” Abby sighed before turning back to the screen.

McGee pressed play again and a new scene of Ziva’s life started.

The three David kids and Eli were standing next to a bed where their mother was lying, very pale. It was maybe the end of the afternoon, because the sun was slowly falling when you watched through the window on the far end of the room.

Tali was in her father’s arms while Ziva and Ari were holding each other hand.

“Oh, my little darlings, I love you so much never forget that. Ari, my only little boy, I’m sure you will accomplish great things, my little Ziva, so lively and  full of fire, never stop believe in yourself and my Tali, my little sunshine just stay my princess forever”

Tony turned to the real Ziva behind him. She was watching, tears streaming down her face. She saw him watching her and turned quickly his head to the other side, trying to hide her tears.

Rivka coughed a little before turning to her husband.

“Take care of them, please”

“I will, I promise.”

“Ziva, come here please I have one last thing for you. I promised my Ima that my first daughter would have it so this is for you, take care of it and never take it off.”

Little Ziva opened her hand and Rivka put something in it, before closing her daughter’s fingers around the little thing.

“Good bye little ones I will always be with you”

She coughed one more time and breathed for the last time before closing her eyes forever. Ari stayed still. He had understood what had just happened. He started to cry lightly.

“Ari, why are you crying so loudly ? You will wake Ima up !”

“No Ziva, she won’t wake up.” Ari said, taking his sister in his arms. She still didn’t understand what was going on.

Eli David looked one more time at his dead wife. He had loved her so much and now she was gone !

“He’s right, Ziva, she’s dead.” He said emotionless

“No, she’s not ! Look, Abba she’s just sleeping !”

“Ziva stop now !” Eli said, nearly shouting

The little girl stayed silent at her father’s outburst. She was starting to understand.

“No it cannot be possible.”

She climbed on the bed and began to shake her mother’s body.

“Ima, wake up, please, wake up” By now she had started to cry “No Ima, don’t leave me please I love you please, wake up.” She was sobbing by now.

Eli couldn’t stand being this a minute more and stormed out of the room, bringing Tali with him.

“Ziva, stop, Abba’s right, she won’t come back.”

Ziva jumped out of the bed and came back to her brother who took her in his arms.

“But…  But… Where is she now ?” She sniffed, her eyes still full of tears

“She is … in the stars”

“Oh ! Ima is a star ?

“Yes, kind of”

“So, if I see the stars in the night, I will see her ?”

“Yes, and she will see you too.”

She started to cry again.

“But I want to see her now !”

She ran to her room and closed the door. She sat on her little bed and felt something in her hand. She had forgotten about Rivka’s present. She opened her hand to find a golden necklace with a golden Star of David. She walked to the window and stared at the sky. The stars were coming out. She put the chain on her neck and placed a hand on it.

“I swear Ima, I will never take it off, just like you said.”

The screen became black. Most of them had tears in their eyes.

“Do you understand now I didn’t want to watch that ? It’s just that… I just can’t”

No one spoke, no one knew what to say. They might have just seen maybe the most vulnerable side of Ziva, the toughest, strongest and fiercest person they knew.

“Next please, I don’t have all the day !” Ziva said

And there it was. The Ziva they all knew, the one who bottled up all of her emotions and feeling. Ducky was worried about her. She would explode one day, if she didn’t talk to someone.

A new video started.

Ziva came back home from school with a bruise on her arm and a determinate look on her face.

“Oh, I know that look !” Tony joked “ And it’s not good for anyone !”

 “Ari !” she screamed

“What ?” A ten years-old Ari came out of a room, looking slightly annoyed. “ What do you want ?”

“I want you to teach me to fight !”

“But your training doesn’t start until you’re eight ! You’re only seven !”

“Do you really think I don’t know that ? I want to start now !”

“Okay, okay, no need to shout, I’ll do it, just don’t tell Abba !”

“Of course I won’t, I’m not that stupid !” she said and rolled her eyes

 “Oh, Ziva. And you were like… seven ? And you were already that stubborn ? Gibbs said amused

“Okay, go get change and meet me in the basement in five.”

“I’ll be there !”

All went black

“ So you learnt to fight at seven ?”

“Yep ! It was so fun when I started ! It was just Ari and me. I trained every nights and when Ari was not there, I trained alone”