Refusing to Break

Ziva's eyes fluttered open slowly, waiting for the pounding in her temple to abate before subjecting herself to the harsh light above her. For a moment, she could not remember where she was but the scraping of rough rope against her lacerated wrists soon reminded her of where she was.

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Two days earlier

Ziva smiled as she stepped out of the small store. Although being ill was never fun, she was almost jealous of Thalia's illness because of the very thing she had purchased for her little sister: a soda, much coveted in the David home since they were allowed only when the girls were ill or as a very rare treat from their father for some exceptional show of excellence.

Normally, Ziva was hyper-aware of her surroundings; after all, Abba had drilled vigilance into her consciousness from a very early age, making her aware of the danger of living in Israel, especially as the daughter of a Deputy Director of Mossad. However, at this moment, Ziva was distracted by thoughts of her sister's smile when she brought home the special treat and, more importantly for Thalia, amusing anecdotes of the school day she had missed. Unfortunately for the 14 year old, this lapse in vigilance would cost her dearly.

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Present

"Good morning, sunshine," a harsh voice said mockingly. "Are you ready to play?"

Ziva could not remember much, but flashes of memory, captured as she lapsed in and out of consciousness over the last few days, told her that she had been abducted by a small group of men who were very angry with her father. She surmised that they must be Hamas, but beyond this she had no clue why she was lying tied up on a damp floor in an unfinished basement.

Suddenly, rough hands jerked her into a sitting position, shocking her out of her reverie. Only long practice hiding her emotions from her father kept Ziva from betraying her fear with the gasp that tried to work it's way up her throat. Choking back her panic, Ziva took in her surroundings and the two men who stood looking down at her, committing them to her flawless memory. If I ever get out of here, I will be able to tell Abba where I was and who captured me, she thought, dimly aware of the absurdity of her sudden calm.

"...because I know your father wouldn't want his precious little girl to be hurt," said the shorter of the two men.

Damn it! she chastised herself. Pay attention, you idiot.

Before she had a chance to think any further, she was being jerked to her feet and dragged through the open door to an adjacent room, barren with the exception of a video camera on a tripod and a small bed. The smaller man nodded at his compatriot, who swiftly cut the ropes binding Ziva's wrist and then pressed the knife against her throat before she could react. He then led Ziva to the bed, where he forced her down and handcuffed her wrists above her head. Following a short bout of intense kicking and writhing (and the resultant pain to her bound wrists), which she abandoned upon feeling the cold metal of the knife being pressed against her throat once again, Ziva's feet were tied to the post of the bed, forcing her legs apart and pulling them uncomfortably taught.

Ziva felt her bile rising as foreboding once more coursed through her. Determined not to give her captors the satisfaction of seeing fear, Ziva shouted "keld*" before being slapped across the face. Tasting the coppery blood of her now split lip, Ziva was pleased to see anger flit across both men's faces. Her victory, however, was hard won; now angered in addition to vindictive, the men slashed her uniform away from her body, leaving the adolescent shivering slightly in her underwear.

Both men grinned and the shorter, obviously in charge, ordered the other man to gather the rest of the "brothers", excepting those on guard, and wait outside the door for further orders. Without waiting for a response, he then turned to Ziva and ripped off her underwear with his bare hands. Ziva bit her lip, focusing on the tang of blood while she slowly, determinedly cocooned herself in the safety of her innermost being. She knew from experience that she could endure the most intense pain, physical and emotional, with a placid expression and an unnatural calm if so ensconced.

From the safety of her mind, Ziva watched with a detached intentness that would allow her to remember everything with absolute clarity when required as the men of the cell raped her in turn. She was dimly aware of a searing pain between her legs and the wet, sticky feeling of blood on her thighs. The leader, whose given name she had learned to be Jamal, leaned down and whispered in her ear, but for once, Ziva chose not to note his words. The men left the room, closing and locking the door behind them and Ziva drifted into a restless sleep.

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A few hours later

"Wake up, Ahuvati," came the scathing voice of Jamal's tall, thin assistant.

Ziva woke up quickly, almost instantly aware of the snub-nosed revolver pointed directly at her head.

"Paying attention?"

Ziva nodded, complaint only because she was still tied to the bed and knew that she stood no chance against a man with a weapon when she couldn't even move her arms.

"I'm going to let you loose and you're going to put on the clothes that are on the floor. Then, you're going to sit in the chair in front of the camera. If you make any sudden moves, I'm going to shoot you. And if you think you can take me down, try it. There are two more outside, and they've got machine guns."

Ziva quickly sifted through her options, realized that she had absolutely no chance winning, even briefly, in a struggle, and nodded her comprehension. Keeping the gun trained on her with one hand, the man undid the handcuffs and ropes tying her to the bed and Ziva slowly rolled into a sitting position, from which she could reach the t-shirt and jeans that had been tossed on the floor for her. She pulled them on, ignoring the shooting pain that coursed through her body, beginning between her legs and traveling up her spine with a rapidity that surprised her. Resisting the urge to grimace, Ziva walked slowly to the chair indicated and sat down carefully, trying to avoid making the pain worse.

The man then cuffed her arms behind her back once again and tied her feet to the chair, giving her little room to move and no chance for escape. Following this, he called Jamal into the room, turned on the camera, and stood calmly behind it, gun still trained on Ziva's temple.

Ziva listened with a calm disinterest as Jamal's icy voice greeted her father and the camera panned to show her bruised and bloodied figure sitting as straight as possible in the chair.

"Tell your Abba what fun we have had Ziva."

"Go to hell, you bastard pig," Ziva retorted in the perfect, if street-wise Arabic that she knew her father was proud of.

Tucking the gun into a holster at his ankle, the assistant strode the few steps between himself and Ziva and, with a swift motion, twisted her arm until Ziva heard a sickening crack and felt the shooting pain of her arm breaking.

"Tell your father what we have done to you Ziva," said Jamal as Ziva fought the tears welling up in her eyes.

Ziva took a sharp intake of breath and then, with a scathing look at the terrorist, looked straight into the camera, eyes dry, and said, "it appears that you have broken my arm..."

Jamal laughed and twisted her arm, once again causing excruciating pain. However, Ziva's father had told her at the age of six that David's did not cry and so once more she stifled both her tears and the scream that threatened to rip out of her mouth.

Jamal looked at Ziva expectantly, but she pressed her lips tightly, expecting to be hurt once more but willing to endure the pain if it spared her the shame of telling her father the extent of damage the men had done to her. However, seeing her stubborness, Jamal chuckled and decided to tell the Deputy Director himself.

"Well, since your daughter has obviously chosen to become mute, I suppose I have the pleasure of telling you that we have made her a women. Now, in my culture, we know what to do with such whores; we kill them to erase the shame they have brought to their families." At this, he paused to see the effect his words would have on the girl, but when she did not respond, he continued, "I understand, however, that in your culture you do not have the self-respect to commit honor killings. So I assume you want your damaged goods back. Along with the delivery of this tape, you will receive a set of instructions which, if followed exactly, will buy your daughter back."

"Don't do it, Abba! It's better that I die than that you give in!" Ziva shouted. Responding to her outburst, Jamal twisted her broken arm again and, despite herself, Ziva whimpered and felt her eyes tear up. Jamal turned back to the camera and said, "The next video I send for your viewing pleasure will be of us defiling your daughter. Do as I say or I will ruin you along with her." He then signaled his assistant, who turned off the camera and removed the tape, handing it off to a man just outside the door.

Jamal exited the room, and the assistant untied Ziva and forced her, once again at gunpoint, to remove the clothing and allow herself to be tied back to the bed. With acute pain shooting through her entire body, Ziva complied mutely, resigning herself to pain and death. Unlike these men she knew that, faced with the choice, her father would allow her to die rather than compromise with terrorists.

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Four Days Later

Ziva was surprised that she was still alive; however, the men seemed to enjoy raping her, even if she now lay placid, resigned to her fate, and she guessed this was why they had not yet killed her. At the moment, though, she was enjoying a brief respite, half awake and alone in the tiny room.

Suddenly, rapid gunfire shattered the silence and she heard shouts in Arabic and Hebrew. Just as abruptly as it had begun, the noise ended and she heard the door creak open and forced herself to relax, pretending she was asleep as if this would somehow protect her.

Ari stood in the doorway, staring at the prone form of his precious baby sister, eyes closed and covered in blood. Fearing the worst, he closed the door behind him and rushed to the bed.

Ziva peered beneath her eyelashes to see who had come into her room and, upon seeing Ari's face, burst into tears. Ari gently released her from her bonds and held her as she sobbed. After a moment, he stroked her hair and she sat up, watching as Ari searched the room and found the clothes she had worn for the forced interview. He turned away as she pulled them on, then took her into his arms, whispering terms of endearment in Hebrew and Arabic and assuring her that she was safe. Still gently embracing her, he snapped open his cell phone and called their father to let him know that the cell had been eliminated and Ziva was safe.

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Several hours later at Tel Hashomer**

Deputy Director David strode into the room, glancing at Ari before turning to look at Ziva. Her broken right arm was now bound in a cast, already signed and drawn on by Ari, Thalia, and her nanny; and she was wearing the sweat pants and t-shirt brought by her nanny, who waited outside with a still hysterical Thalia for Ziva to be released.

"Well, Ziva," Eli David sighed, "are you ready to go home?"

"Yes, sir," Ziva replied, eyes trained steadily on her sandaled feet.

"Look at me."

Ziva looked up reluctantly but forced her eyes to remain neutral as she met her father's gaze.

He sighed again and turned away to talk to the doctor who had entered the room behind him.

"Is she ready to go home?"

"Yes, sir. Of course, you'll need to make sure that she makes it to her follow-up appointment, just to be sure that everything is alright. And might I recommend that you make an appointment with a psychiatrist. I had my nurse write down several recommendations while scheduling her next appointment and...."

"I'm sure she will not need that. My daughter is strong, are you not Ziva."

With more conviction than she felt, Ziva replied in the affirmative. The doctor attempted to protest, stating that she had just been through a traumatic incident and that no-one, especially not a child of 14, was prepared to handle this sort of thing alone. However, Eli gestured to Ari, who helped Ziva off of the examination table, and the David family left the hospital, Ari walking beside Ziva, who held Thalia with her good arm as they walked to the cars waiting for them.

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Thirteen Years Later

"Ziva. Ziva... Zee-vah!!"

Ziva looked up from her computer, startled by Tony's outburst.

"You with us, Officer David?" he asked, flippancy poorly veiling his obvious concern at his partner's atypical lapse in attention.

"Shut up, DiNozzo, and get back to work," Ziva replied half-heartedly, her heart caught in the past even as her mind returned to the present.

DiNozzo opened his mouth to inquire further, but was silenced by a death glare from Ziva. Knowing the stood no chance against his "ninja", Tony returned his attention to his work.

Gibbs silently watched the exchange between his two agents and decided that after this case was over he would get to the bottom of Ziva's distress over this case of child abuse.

*Arabic for dog, a serious insult in Islamic culture.

**A hospital just outside of Tel Aviv