A/N: This is just a short little peek into a part of Ziva's early life - like my last one, only shorter - that I'd wanted to include in a larger piece, but ultimately decided to publish as a oneshot. I know I won't get many reviews for it, since it's not really the kind of thing that draws many readers. But it would totally make my day if you did review it.

Remember, if you review my work, I will return the favor.

- Cricket


When she was young, her mother strung crystals across the kitchen ceiling. They hung down from little strings between the window and the stove; low enough to catch the light, but too high for her to reach them.

In the mornings and at dusk, whenever the sun was at the right place on the horizon, its honeyed beams would come slanted through the window and they'd pass through the crystals, each and every one, dozens of them, casting colorful prisms and ribbons of gold and white all across the kitchen walls. When she was little, she would sit on the floor and reach up, up, trying in vain to gather the lights up in her tiny fists, and always failing. Mornings became sacred – beyond sacred. There was a kind of mysticism in the lights, in the facets of the crystals. She would shuffle into the kitchen long before the sun came up, while everyone else was asleep, and she would sit in front of the stove and wait for the lights to come up. It was always warm. And so quiet, and peaceful, and the moments of twilight just before the sun came up were so full of wondrous anticipation that she would find herself smiling for no reason, staring up at the window excitedly. And when finally the light came dancing sluggish on the mustard-colored walls, it was like the gleaming surface of the ocean, the hot, wondrous blink of the stars in a great expanse of time.

But it pained her, some mornings, to come in and find that the sky was clouded or the night was pressing in too long. When the light never came. The crystals then were flat. They were hollow. They hung dark and cold and heavy on the ends of their tattered lines, nothing more than ugly, polished stones, and the walls were only mustard-colored, only walls and paint on walls. On mornings like that, she would fall into a foul mood and it would follow her until the crystals lit up again.

The very last time that she saw the lights, she was seven years old.

The next morning, a storm came in, and the sky was dark for the entire day, and then for an entire week. The sun could not compete with the heavy clouds and the rain. Ziva thought that it was some cruel joke; it was torture to her. She dreamed about the lights and found herself waking earlier and earlier every morning. She would station herself at the front of the stove like a somber guard, watching the window and waiting for the sun, and it never came. One morning – nine days since last the crystals had shown their lights upon the walls – she grew so sick of waiting that something overcame her, and she hoisted herself up onto the counter, leaned across the kitchen and seized a crystal in her fist. She tore it down – the line snapping with a pluck – and cast it across the floor, where is bounced and shattered. Shards of broken crystal skittered everywhere. She tore them all down, every one, growing so frustrated and angry that her eyes began to burn but she did not cry. Pieces of crystal became imbedded in her palms and in the grooves between her fingers. The pain only made her angrier.

Halfway into her tirade, Tali came wandering in to investigate, having awoken to the sound of crystals shattered. She stared up at her sister from the doorway.

"What are you doing?" She whispered, her hands folded in front of her.

"Go away!" Ziva roared.

"You're gonna break them all?" Tali asked. There was more wonder in her voice than fear – awe at the sight of her sister in such a state, and at the growing crystal-dust that lined the floor.

Ziva did not answer.

"Stop it!" Tali cried.

Ziva did not stop.

When her father discovered what she'd done, he locked her in her bedroom for a week. He lectured her, scolded her, slapped her, made her sweep the mess up off the kitchen floor, but he did not ask her why she had broken the crystals. Her mother never asked, either; and she never replaced them. For months, she only looked upon her daughter with her dark, sad eyes, as if pitying her and resenting her all at once.

When Tali died, just before her mother passed away, Ziva found herself standing in the kitchen early one morning, staring up at the empty ceiling.

She remembered the lights. She remembered the crystals, and she could not remember why she had broken them all, but she quietly hated herself for doing it and she stood there and wondered at the dark, blankness of the walls for a very long time. The lights never returned. The walls were flat, and when the sun came up, it did nothing but shine, the mysticism gone, the prisms on the walls long evaporated.

A/N: When you really look at it, Oedipus' major problem was that he never told the people how he felt. I think if he'd just left a review every once in a while, he might not have needed to gouge out his eyes. If you value your vision - and do not wish to marry your mother - you'd do well to learn from his example: review.

(The chorus approves.)