Yeah, I probably should work on Meeting the past. But this came out, and you might as well read it, right? Warning: Not my usual fluffy one-shot. It's a lot darker.
But anyway, on to the story!
Warning: Not my usual fluffy one-shot. It's a lot darker.
Ziva stared at the faded black-white photograph on the screen.
She knew it had happened. Of course she knew, it was part of her people's history. Part of her history.
That didn't help stopping the irrational anger cursing through her, though. This man… He'd been one of them. Maybe he had been a guard, shooting innocent people… Maybe he had simply taken part in a razzia. It didn't matter. He had been one of them. He had helped destroying people's lives, he had been part of the collective called the Nazis.
She had been raised by silence whenever it came to that subject. Her father only made sure to tell what bastards the Nazis were, what pain they had caused in her people's lives and how they had to pay for it. She had never been told what had happened to her family.
She was not even supposed to know where her grandparents had been from. Europe. Poland. A city called Wrocław. She was not supposed to know that her Savta had been on the verge of marrying when the Nazis had come and taken them, separating them. Killing the man that had been supposed to be her grandfather.
They had never stood a chance. A young, Polish, Jewish couple, in a city only a couple of hours away from the biggest camp of all.
Nobody knew she knew. She had never told anyone about what she had found in the attic during one rainy morning, when she had been bored out of her mind. Not prepared for what she would discover.
Suddenly, everything made sense. The way Savta avoided anything that had to do with the past. The tension she had picked up between Saba and Savta, even as a child. At the time she had thought nothing of it, her mind occupied with other things. But when she had found out, it had started to come together. She had felt immensely sorry for the woman she had never felt a close connection with. Now she knew why her grandmother had cut her off, along with many more people.
The marriage she had been forced into upon leaving the camp pregnant had destroyed her will to live. She was probably raped by a Nazi officer, Ziva thought – though she didn't know much about that, it seemed the only possibly explanation, since women and men had always been separated and her grandmother's fiancée had died after a year. She had found the list of names and she'd had enough logic to pick out the name that meant the most, the name that was slightly faded, as though a finger had been going over it many times.
Bringing a fatherless child into the world was a shame – even in post-war Europe. So her great-grandmother had done the only thing possible and had given her daughter –her only surviving daughter– away to a respectful Jewish man.
Her grandfather. Ziva had never liked him. He had been cold and distant to her – and with him, she knew it wasn't due to traumatic experiences in the camps. He had never been in one – he had hid as soon as possible, survived the war living on a distant far. He had been lucky.
Savta had been through so much, she couldn't even begin to imagine it. She had survived, but her spirit had been broken. Ziva now recognized the quiet timidness of her grandmother as exactly that: a broken spirit. A forced, failing marriage after years of physical, emotional and internal torture. And she couldn't help but feel sorry for the woman she had never really known, the woman she would not get to know anymore either. She had died two years ago, victim of a simple heart attack. She did not miss the irony of living through two world wars and the chaos afterwards, only to be killed by a heart attack.
"Ziva!" Gibbs' piercing voice shook her out of her thoughts. She quickly focused again, startled at the changed image on the screen.
"Yes?" Gibbs continued to stare at her. Obviously, she had been supposed to say something else.
"Check Heinrich Engelmann's associates alibis." Gibbs, not waiting for a reply, turned and left the room. Ziva nodded blindly, looking at Tony for some explanation.
"Back on earth?" he asked her. He was grinning his typical Tony-grin, but she could see a deeper understanding in his eyes. She gave him one of his glares and he eventually gave in.
"Heinrich Engelmann, the body found on Virginia Beach yesterday," he reminded her.
"Oh, yeah," she muttered and quickly moved to her desk. She could tell McGee was confused by her behaviour, as was Tony. But Tony might have a clue… After all, he was Tony.
She glanced when she felt their looks on her. "What," she snapped. McGee quickly directed his attention back to the computer screen, but Tony continued to look at her. "What," she said again, and this time he stood up and walked over to her desk.
Not this, she thought tiredly, only a moment before he reached her desk.
"Your family…" he said quietly.
"What about them?" she retorted, dancing around the subject. She typed in Heinrich's - no, Engelmann's – name and watched the list appear.
"Were they…" he swallowed. "You know… there?"
"I do not know," she replied noncommittally, not willing to admit the source of her discomfort.
"Yes," she amended when she saw Tony's eyes. "They always kept it from me, but I found out anyway."
Tony nodded quietly. "I'm sorry," he offered, and Ziva nodded silently. "It has happened," she commented. "No one can change history."
"No, no one can," he agreed silently. He watched her as she dialled the first number on her phone.
"Be'hatzlacha," he whispered, so quietly she doubted she had heard it correctly.
"Toda," she replied steadily, looking him in the eye. She knew he didn't know much Hebrew, if any, but this proved he had made an effort to learn it.
He looked back at her, then moved back to his own desk. She watched him leave, then turned her gaze once more to the screen, now showing Heinrich Engelmann again.
"Aleha hashalom," she whispered to no one in general. Then she moved back to her job.
So this is different than my other one-shots, because it's not shown in the show at all. Ziva may as well have ancestors from Israel itself -the geographical place, I mean- , I don't know. I don't know much about Israel's history. But this story line just developed as I started typing. Also, the topic... Well, let's say it interests me...
Translation of the Hebrew words:
Saba - grandfather
Savta - grandmother
Be'hatzlacha - good luck
Toda - thank you
Aleha hashalom - May she rest in peace
And the guy's surname, Engelmann... it means 'Angel man'. Ironic...
Wroclaw really is a city in Poland, by the way. I've been there on a student exchange for about a week. The camp I was referring to is Auschwitz - I estimate it is a 3 or 4 hour drive from Wroclaw. I've been there, too. On another note, I am learning Hebrew right now. It's not supposed to be a self-study book, but I am using it that way - and I was wondering if anyone who happened to know Hebrew would be willing to talk to me in that language. I know veeeery little bits now, but if I talk to people my vocabulary will increase much faster. Please review, whether you speak Hebrew or not. I really want to know what you think of this piece.
On another note, I am learning Hebrew right now. It's not supposed to be a self-study book, but I am using it that way - and I was wondering if anyone who happened to know Hebrew would be willing to talk to me in that language. I know veeeery little bits now, but if I talk to people my vocabulary will increase much faster. Please review, whether you speak Hebrew or not. I really want to know what you think of this piece.