Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS...and I certainly don't own Matisyahu.

A.N.: So, I've been reading The Kite Runner for AP Lit and then I watched Slumdog Millionaire and, for reasons unbeknown to me, these made me want to write fics prominently featuring Ari...as a nice guy. There's a bit of warning for you: If you don't like to think of Ari as the good guy, you probably shouldn't read this fic. If you don't mind: Please read this fic.

I did create my own timeline for this, so I took a bit of creative liberty with names and ages; please don't take this for a grain of salt, I don't write the show so in the end what I write here isn't going to change what you see on the show and its not worth getting worked up over. Just try to enjoy it as it was intended: a work of fiction.

Of course, before we go any further, I need to think the person who always serves as the world's greatest sounding board and actually checked my math for this fic and saved me from making a mistake that would have completely ruined the effect I was looking for at the end. Cable Addict, my dear, I shudder to think what I would do without you.

Now, on with the (fic about the) show!

Sometimes I lay

Under the moon

And I thank God I'm breathin'

Then I pray

'Don't take me soon'

'Cause I am here for a reason

I was ten years old and he was fifteen when my older brother took me to the roof of our vacation house on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. We lay on our backs and looked up at the stars. He pointed out all the heroes and monsters of the skies and told me the Greek legends that accompanied them. The way he told them, it was if I were watching it unfolding on a giant movie screen all around us. Then he stopped his story.

I heard him roll over onto his belly and felt him looking at me. I rolled over and looked at him.

"Ziva," he addressed me.

"Ari," I mimicked in my best impression of his all-knowing older brother voice.

He smiled a little at me, but then regained his composure, "Ziva, you are going to do great things in your life. I know that you will grow up to do anything that you want to do and will have the strength and the intelligence to achieve all of your dreams. Don't ever let anyone break you. Don't ever compromise, do you understand?"

I nodded even though I only half understood what he was telling me. His eyes showed how serious he was at that moment.

He had been like that a lot lately. It had gotten where he never even spoke to Aba anymore. He might nod or grunt, but they no longer conversed that it didn't end in shouting that made our younger sister cry.

"Ziva, no matter what you end up doing, remember that I love you, little sister. Don't forget that, alright?"

I started to get worried, but I did love my brother so I replied, "I won't forget. I love you, too, Ari."

"Things might change, Ziva, but I don't want them to make you change, alright?"

"What's going to change, Ari?"

"I can't tell you, Ziva. Just promise me that you'll keep going."

"I...I promise."

"Ziva, you and Tali are meant for something more than what Eli would have you do," he said to me, his expression betraying that he knew more than he would tell me then. Now I understand.

Sometimes in my tears I drown

But I never let it get me down

So when negativity surrounds

I know someday it'll all turn around because

Two years later, Ari walked out the front door and we didn't see him again in years.

I didn't want to speak to anyone. I locked the door to my room and ignored Aba and Ima's pleas for me to come out...Well, Ima pleaded. Aba demanded.

Aba always demanded things.

Meanwhile, Tali bounced about the house as though Ari was just out getting a carton of milk.

One night, after I had locked myself away for the evening, I heard something small knocking on my door. I walked toward it and demanded to know who was there, but no one answered. So I dropped on my belly and looked under the door. As I did, I heard some clicking sounds and the door fell open. My seven-year-old sister stood there in front of me, looking down at me with an amused smile on her face, "You look silly down there, Ziva. You look like a lizard crawling around."

I closed my eyes and sighed. Of all the people in the house I did not want to speak to, Tali was at the top of the list. How could she be so cheerful when our brother had just left for good?

"Tali, why are you here?"

"I don't know yet," she replied, walking past me and into my room.

"I mean in my room, stupid," I said, sitting up and leaning against my wall.

"I was looking for the kitten."

"I haven't seen your stupid cat all day, Tali," I spat.

"Hmm," Tali shrugged, picking at things on my shelf.

She picked up a snow globe Aba had brought me from Moscow and shook it violently.

I decided to be straight-forward about it, "Tali, how can you be so happy when you saw Ari left? You know he's not coming back, but you act like he'll come home any minute now."

"He might," she said, watching the flakes fall down onto the tiny St. Basil's Cathedral, "You don't know he won't. Besides, even if he doesn't sitting in your room won't change things. Ari always told me to stay happy. He said it was my gift. I like gifts. Ari likes me to be happy, so I figure that if I stay happy, when he comes home, it'll make him happy."

"And if he doesn't come home?" I asked.

Tali furrowed her brow and thought for a moment before responding, "Well, if I stay happy no matter what and he doesn't come home, I suppose that I'll still be happy."

I sighed and hung my head. She sat down the snow globe and sat down next to me and put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Things will get better, Ziva. He hasn't forgotten us." Then she stood up and ran out of my room, having spotted her missing kitten.

All my life I been waitin' for

I been prayin' for

For the people to say

That we don't wanna fight no more

There'll be no more war

And our children will play

One day

One day

One day

One day

One day

One day

One day, a few weeks later, Aba came home and went to his office and locked the door. Tali and I pressed our ears to the door and we could hear him sobbing. Ima saw us and chased us off, saying that Aba had just received some very bad news. I was scared.

"Was it about Ari?" I asked.

"In a sort," she replied, not making eye contact with me.

"Is Ari alright?" I asked, getting even more worried.

"Ari is fine. He may be coming for a visit," Ima said before sending us to our rooms and then going into Aba's office.

Ari didn't come visit.

Within days, I learned that an Israeli air strike had killed Ari's mother while she was sitting in her house reading a letter from her son.

I also learned that Ari blamed Aba, but I did not understand why. I was twelve-years-old and still worshiped the ground my father walked on. I could not understand what Ari thought that Aba had done that would make him responsible for the air strike. Aba was not a military commander; Aba couldn't control the airplanes. But I had learned not to question Aba's business, so I kept these questions to myself.

It's not about win or lose

'Cause we all lose when they feed on the

Souls of the innocent blood-drenched pavement

Keep on movin' though the waters stay ragin'

And in this maze you may lose

Your way

It might drive you crazy

But don't let it phase you no way

No way

Two years later, Aba had moved Tali, Ima, and me to Jerusalem. We lived in a modest house in the suburbs. Across the street was a Muslim family, the Nagis. Their daughter, Laila, was my best friend. We played every day after school. We didn't attend the same school, but we were the same age, so we were studying similar things. I helped her with history and she helped me with math. I helped her learn Hebrew and she helped me learn Arabic. We were symbiotic.

One miserably hot day, Laila and I were out playing in the streets when I heard a shout followed by a tat-tat-tat. Our heads shot up and I saw a crowd advancing on our neighborhood. Several of them had green bandannas tied around their faces. Men came to the doors of houses on our street then went back inside.

"Ziva!" I heard Ima shout from the doorway of my house.

I ran to the doorway and saw men coming out of their houses with guns. The men in the green bandannas were almost here. The tat-tat-tat grew louder and I recognized it as gunfire. I froze and turned around; the street had dissolved into chaos. "Laila!" I shouted, but couldn't see her anywhere. "Laila!" I shouted again. "Ziva!" she shouted. I could discern her figure among the crowd of men. "Laila!" I shouted, motioning for her to come with me.

A tat-tat-tat sounded louder than thunder and I heard Laila shriek out and then she crumpled to the ground.

"Laila!" I screamed out and started to run to her, but before I could, Ima had me by the arm and dragged me, fighting, into the house. She locked and barricaded the door behind us. I sat on the floor with my eyes wide open.

Ima grabbed the phone and called Aba at his office and I heard her demand that he move us back to Tel Aviv.

I looked down at my hands and tried to realize what had just happened. My best friend had been killed right in front of my eyes. I wished nothing more than to wring the necks of the men that had killed her. I didn't care if they were Israeli or Palestinian or Syrian or Egyptian or Martian. I wanted them to suffer like she had. I wanted to put a bullet in their stomach and watch them slowly bleed out. I wanted to watch the light slowly fade from their eyes.

Then I remembered what Ari had told me that night on the rooftop, "Things might change, Ziva, but I don't want them to make you change, alright?"

I had promised Ari that I wouldn't let things change me. This must be a change like he was talking about. I took a deep breath and swallowed the rage I felt and then I leaned on Tali's shoulder and cried.

I cried for the next week.

Sometimes in my tears I drown

But I never let it get me down

So when negativity surrounds

I know someday it'll all turn around because

Then one day when I was twenty-one, I stopped having a shoulder to cry on. I was in Greece when I got the call from Ima. Tali had been in a cafe with her friends. A bomb went off. Tali had been right there.

And then she wasn't.

For a few hours, it hurt. It hurt like someone was twisting my heart into a knot.

After that, it stopped hurting. After that, I didn't feel anything.

I was completely numb and it didn't bother me. I began working on getting to Tel Aviv without even thinking about why I was going. Even if I did think about it, it certainly didn't seem real to me.

I had grown so accustomed to death that my own sister's death hadn't even phased me.

I had become a monster that Tali would be ashamed of. She had such a big heart and I always had trouble with mine. It was like it didn't want to work at times. My heart had times where it was as cold as stone. I didn't have a heart like Ari and Tali; I had a heart like Aba's.

When I arrived in Tel Aviv and drove home, it was like my body was on autopilot. I didn't even think about what I was doing.

At the house, Ima was crying. Aba looked at me with cold eyes that betrayed no emotions. I looked at him with the same eyes.

Tali should have hated me for what I had become.

All my life I been waitin' for

I been prayin' for

For the people to say

That we don't wanna fight no more

There'll be no more war

And our children will play

One day

One day

One day

One day

One day

One day

The day of the funeral, Ari walked into the house for the first time in nine years.

He held Ima like she was his own mother. He avoided eye contact with Aba. When he saw me, he sighed as if he were ashamed of me. He was always so much like Tali.

That evening, I walked up to the roof of the house and looked at the city around it. Everything was going on just as it had before Tali died and just as it will continue to do so after I die.

I heard the door shut, but I did not turn around to see who was there. I heard their footsteps approach me and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ari lean on the ledge, "You know she wasn't like us," he said.

"No, she was like you, but never like me," I said.

"Ziva, I kill people just as you do. Tali could have never killed anything. I thought she was going to throw a fit when she was six and figured out where beef came from," Ari smiled, "She didn't eat meat again after that, remember? Couldn't even kill a chicken."

I smirked a little. That was the first expression I had made since I received the news of her death.

"You know, Ziva, its alright to not be strong. No one expects you to be Eli. For the love of God, I hope you don't turn into Eli. We don't need another Eli. No one wants another Eli," he said, looking down at the traffic below the building.

"I don't try to be him. I just...I...," then I started crying. I hadn't cried in seven years, but I was crying. I was more than crying.

I felt my legs giving up, but Ari moved to catch me. He sat down and leaned up against the wall. He rubbed my back and told me that if anyone in the world deserved to go to heaven, it was Tali and that everything would be alright. We sat up there, him holding me and being the perfect big brother, for almost two hours.

I was twenty-one and he was twenty-six, but in that moment I felt like we were just children again. I wished he could have been there when Laila was killed, but I was grateful that he was here for me now.

When I had finally recovered enough to speak cohesively, I said, "She would be ashamed of what we do, Ari."

"Don't tell yourself that, Ziva. Tali dreamed of a world where everyone could live in peace. Where no one had to be killed anymore. You and I both know that cannot come of itself. Ziva, we are fighting for Tali's dream and don't ever tell yourself otherwise. We are fighting for peace," he said, reassuringly.

That was the last time I talked to Ari, actually talked to the Ari that was my older brother. Ari that was my hero. Ari that was always there for me.

The next time I saw Ari, I didn't know who he was.

I still don't know who he was.

One day this all will change

Treat people the same

Stop with the violence

Down with the hate

One day we'll all be free

And proud to be

Under the same sun singing songs of freedom like...

It has been fifteen years since Tali died. Ten years since Ari...since Ari died. Things have changed so much.

I am glad to have moved out of Eli's shadow; now I understand that warning Ari gave me so many years ago on the rooftop. Eli really did change me, but I like to think that now I'm going back to the way I would have been otherwise. The way that Ari and Tali wanted me to be.

Even so many years after Tali's death, I know that her dream hasn't died. Maybe there never will be peace; certainly not in my lifetime, but now I'm not as worried about what I will see in my lifetime anymore. Now I have bigger things to worry about.

All my life I been waitin' for

I been prayin' for

For the people to say

That we don't wanna fight no more

There'll be no more war

And our children will play

One day

One day

One day

One day

One day

One day

I traced my finger around the edge of a photo of Ari, Tali, and myself when we were very young and smiled sadly at it. I heard the door slam shut and two pairs of small feet galloped into the room.

I sat the photo back on the shelf where it had sat ever since I moved into my new home.

I felt something tug at my shirt and I looked down at two little girls standing beside me.

Both of the girls had dark hair and olive skin. They could have passed for sisters. However, one of the girls was the granddaughter of the director of Mossad and the other girl was the daughter of a Palestinian businessman.

"Ima," a small voice spoke up to me, "Can Nawal stay over and play for a little while?"

"Does her father know where she is?" I asked, kneeling down to the girls' level.

"Yes, ma'am," Nawal answered for Dalia.

"Pleeeease, Ima," Dalia begged. I smiled, I could never resist her when she begged with her big, green eyes.

"Alright," I sighed. The girls cheered and ran off to Dalia's bedroom.

Maybe Tali's dream was closer to being realized than I thought.

A.N.: Did you see what I did there? The way I snuck in my shipper intentions into a non-shippy fic? Am I clever or am I clever? (there is no wrong answer)

So, the song was One Day by Matisyahu. Forgive me if I got some of the lyrics wrong; I tried my darndest. Those of you here in the U.S.A. may recognize the song from the commercials for Winter Olympic coverage on NBC. I would totally recommend Matisyahu to absolutely anyone because that is what I have been listening to for the past few days. Almost exclusively.

This fic is dedicated to my friends' new baby girl, Fallon Grayce, born on January 30, 2010. In the middle of one of the worst winter storms we've had down here in a while. That kid's just been born and she's already like her dad...I know its silly to dedicate something as trivial as a fic to someone's kid, but call me the little drummer boy, this is all I've got to give, yo.

So, even if you disregard that last bit, it would still be awesome to get a review or something of that sort. I like getting the favorite notifications, too. They make me smile...But a review makes me positively beam. Like walking on fricking sunshine.