Ziva sat in the chair, staring at the woman sitting in front of her in utter confusion.

"May I speak to my daughter for a moment?" Eli David said in a tone that made it clear that he was not really asking a question at all.

"Of course," replied the doctor, standing up and, after gently squeezing Ziva's shoulder, softly closing the door behind her.

"Look at me, Ziva."

After taking a deep breathe to make certain that she was composed, Ziva turned a looked at her father with a consciously blank expression, cultivated over the years since her mother had died and her father had decided that she would become the perfect Mossad Officer.

"Ziva, I have spoken to your sister Hadassah about this possibility. She is willing to retire from Mossad and take the child. Therefore, you will have the baby and give it to your sister and her husband when it is born. I will pull you out of school at the end of the semester, until after the child is born; it should not be difficult for you to keep up with your class. Understood?"

Ziva nodded her acknowledgement, knowing that there was no point in even formulating an opinion when her father had so clearly made up his mind.

Eli called the doctor back into the office. "Ziva and I have agreed that she will have the child and give it up for adoption."

The doctor looked quizzically at Ziva, but knew better than to question a man with such obvious authority in his voice. Ziva gave her a defeated look and a small nod to indicate her aquiescence to this plan.

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Ziva shook her head and turned up the volume on her radio, not wanting Thalia to hear Abba and Aunt Nettie screaming at each other. Although she was only 14, Ziva was extremely protective of her younger sister and had thus far managed to shield Thali from the worst details concerning her rape. She had managed to convince everyone to let her tell Thalia that she was pregnant as a result, but had not figured out how to break the news to the girl yet. Ziva could scarcely believe it herself.

"Ziva," Thalia asked in a scared voice, always upset by their fighting, "what are Ab and Aunt Nettie arguing about?"

Ziva sighed, knowing that she could no longer hide the truth from her sister; if she did not tell her, Thalia would find out by overhearing an argument and Ziva knew that would be worse than anything she could possibly say. Turning down the music, Ziva pulled Thalia to her bed.

"Thali, when I was kidnapped... you remembered how I told you what they did to me?"

Tears already falling down her cheeks, remembering her sister's hidden pain, Thali squeaked out a quiet, "yes."

"Well... I... I'm pregnant," Ziva rushed the words out at the end, equating telling a painful truth with ripping off a band-aid: faster was always better.

"Wha...? How...? You haven't even had a period yet!" Thalia sputtered. "That's not possible!"

"Apparently it is," Ziva shrugged. "I do not know what to tell you. Abba has decided that I should have the baby and give it to Hadassah."

Thalia's nose scrunched up in confusion. "Who?"

Ziva smiled. "You remember her, Thal. She's one of our half-sisters. The youngest one..."

"Oh."

Ziva hugged her sister, unsure of what else to say. She then turned the volume of the radio back up and returned to her chemistry homework, wishing for once that she had not skipped two levels at school and could be doing the easy work most of her peers were doing right now. Thalia settled on the floor beside her, curled up with the translation of Pride and Prejudice that Ziva had given her for her birthday.

Periodically, Thalia looked up worriedly at Ziva and Ziva tried to reassure with with a pat, a stroke on her head, or a gentle smile.

Much later, with Thalia asleep on her bed, Ziva crept out into the hallway and down to Aunt Nettie's room.

"You know there's no point in arguing with him, Aunt Nettie. And besides, I really don't mind. I can handle it. Thalia's worried but..."

"Ziva, you don't have to prove to me how strong you are. I already know. But despite what you think, this will be the hardest thing you will ever do. I do not think your father realizes how much he is asking of you."

Ziva nodded and hugged her aunt. "I should finish my lessons now."

Nettie squeezed Ziva's shoulders before releasing her and then Ziva returned to her room on silent feet, putting the finishing touches on her German translation before curling around Thali and falling into a restless slumber.

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Ziva sucked in a sharp breath, repressing the urge to cry out. Her water had broken while she was in the shower and now she was carefully watching the time between her contractions, having decided to wait until her contractions were consistently five minutes apart before telling Aunt Nettie. After all, she knew that her aunt and sister would freak out and she would rather endure the pain in peace than with them hovering over her worriedly.

It's down to seven minutes now. And they are approximately 45 seconds each. I suppose I could start getting ready to leave... But then she shook her head, knowing that her bag was already packed and in the trunk and the only thing left to do was tell Aunt Nettie, climb into the car, and streak off to the hospital for what she felt would be a very long day.

After two more hours, Ziva decided perhaps 5 and 1/2 minutes apart were close enough and, despite her present bulk, snuck into the living room and had to clear her throat before her aunt noticed her presence.

"Are you alright, Zivaleh?" her aunt asked. Ziva sighed, as this had been the standard question since she had entered her third trimester a month ago.

Just as she was about to respond, another contraction hit and she hissed slightly, biting her lip to control the pain. She had not timed this announcement well at all.

Nettie raised her eyes, then reached out to Ziva and pulled her into an embrace, calling out for Thali to come to the living room.

Like her aunt, Thalia was on high alert and ran into the room with her shoes in one hand and book bag in the other, ready to spend the day at the hospital with her sister but expecting to be banished to the waiting room. After waiting for Ziva's contraction to pass, Aunt Nettie dragged her to the car, with Thalia running ahead to unlock the doors and start the car.

"You did not ask me how far apart the contractions are," Ziva pouted, not sure why she was annoyed.

"Because I know you, Zivaleh. You would not come to unless it was time to go to the hospital."

Ziva huffed, blowing her hair out of her face in a frustrated gesture that everyone who knew her was quite familiar with, and plopped unceremoniously into the back seat with Thalia, who began immediately stroking her back in a gesture that Ziva often used to soothe her when she was upset or in pain.

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Ziva had finally fallen into an exhausted sleep, having been in labor for 16 hours by now, when her father finally walked into the hospital room. Thalia, as per her expectations, had been banished to the waiting room where she lay curled up against her cousin Micah, Aunt Nettie's son. Hearing her brother-in-law walk into the room, Nettie turned her face from an affectionate gaze at her niece and glared at Eli before dragging him into the hall.

"It took you long enough to get here," she hissed.

Eli raised his eyebrows and looked at her benignly. "I cannot just leave the office, Nettie. You know this. I came as soon as Hadassah and I could leave. Is the baby here, then?"

"No, Eli. The child is just exhausted. You wouldn't understand, but labor is quite strenuous."

Eli held up his hands in a conciliatory gesture. "Fine, fine. I was just wondering. I did not expect her to sleep through the pain of labor."

Hearing a whimper, Nettie spun around and walked back into the room, face immediately reassuming its concerned expression.

Ziva was awake now, a look of fierce determination in her eyes, resolved not to show how much pain she was in. Eli started to sit down but, receiving a glare that chilled even him, kissed Ziva on the forehead and left for the waiting room instead, almost bumping into the doctor on his way out.

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Four hours later, Ziva lay crying quietly on the bed, damp ringlets clinging to her forehead and neck from the effort of delivering the perfect baby girl that was now being checked out in the nursery. She had declined to see the baby, knowing that if she did she would not be able to let it go and had sent her father and Hadassah off to see their new granddaughter and daughter, respectively. Thalia lay curled up on the bed behind her, where she had been since her sister had been taken to the recovery room and Nettie stood beside her, alternately stroking her hair and switching wet washrags to cool Ziva.

Eli peered into the room through the window on the door, intending to offer to bring Ziva some food from her favorite deli, but when he saw the scene before him he backed quickly away from the door, realizing for the first time in years that his daughter was, as Nettie was constantly telling him, still only a child.

I made her have this child to strengthen her against physical and emotional pain, he thought, but it seems that once again I have done the wrong thing for Ziva. This was too much to ask of her. I must allow her to be a child.

It was a vow that he would soon forget, as Ziva recovered quickly and returned to training with a renewed vigor and strengthened resolve to never, ever be hurt again. Despite his best intentions, Eli David could not seem to help himself when it came to molding Ziva into the ideal Mossad Officer, even if it meant destroying her in the process.