Summary: Tali receives her first off-the-books mission, and she and Ziva end up discussing duty and principles.
Disclaimer: Well, I kinda own Tali...except her name, her relation to Ziva, and her character. Okay, I have a confession. I don't own Tali. Nor do I own NCIS.
Spoilers: General David family.
Thanks to shirik for educating me on the Israeli and Jewish cultures and for sharing her opinion on the David family! Credit for Ziva's nickname goes to her.
I intended this to be longer, haha, but there are so many ideas that I seem to be having difficulty expressing. I leave it to you to see how I've done!
Warning: This fic has a...controversial (or not)...interpretation of Ziva's actions. For further interpretation, see A/N at the bottom. Lol. Also, Ziva's age in this fic is...probably not canon.
P.S. Pretend they're speaking in Hebrew...hehe.
She's prepared for the knock on her bedroom door. "Come in," she calls out, and her sister steps in.
She pats the spot at the foot of her bed, where Tali had been before being called away by their father. Her little sister sits facing her, cross-legged.
"A mission," Ziva says softly, asking for confirmation. Tali nods.
"Recon. Abba wants me to go with Officer Hadar. I'll receive training from him."
"What do you think?"
"I do not want to go." Tali wrinkles her nose. "Recon. On a group of high school students. That doesn't feel right to me."
Ziva tilts her head. "You have the skills, though." She does not tell Tali that she got her first mission at sixteen. Tali has received hers a whole year before her two elder siblings had.
"I know. But they're high school students." Tali lifts her hands up in a gesture of puzzlement. "What kind of information does abba think they're hiding, honestly?"
Ziva laughs. "I do not think he thinks they're hiding anything. Perhaps it's their fathers?"
"You're the Mossad officer. You tell me." Tali shrugs.
Ziva furrows her brows. Something's off about her sister. "What is it?"
Tali sets her jaw. "Abba told me you had your first mission at sixteen."
A pause. "Yes."
"It was to seduce and kill a guy."
The room is silent as Tali stares at her elder sister. Judges her elder sister. "Why?"
"He was the son of a terrorist."
"Was he one?"
"He was becoming one."
"What proof did you have of that?"
It's Ziva turn to set her jaw. "I did not have proof first-hand. Abba told me."
"And that's enough for you?"
Ziva narrows her eyes at her sister's tone. "I obey abba's orders."
Tali's face falls. "Ziv, he was seventeen," she whispers, and Ziva feels guilt coiling about in her stomach.
"He could've had his whole life ahead of him."
"Are you here to lecture me, Tali?" Ziva asks tiredly. "Because I regret what I did. I will always regret it. I will always regret what Ari did. Doesn't mean we can change it."
"And that is it? Don't you feel sorry at all? Guilty? Why didn't you stand up to abba?"
"Because he's my father! What do you know, Tali, that allows you to judge me like this?"
"For your information, I have the same father!" Tali rubs her temples. "Oh you know what? Forget it. You and Ari will never get it, how important it is to have proof before you shoot someone in the head. You follow orders blindly and expect that abba will always be right. He isn't. Just like he wasn't right when he led you into the forest and left you there for three days. I thought you were dead, Ziv!" She slips off the bed and leaves the room, remembering to bang the door a little.
When Ziva was eleven, her father had led her blindfolded into the forest. She had thought it was another one of their training sessions where she would learn to pick out dangers based on sound, smell, and touch alone. She was never in any real danger, though. Her father was always close by.
She had known it was different once her father told her to count to a thousand before removing the blindfold. He'd never before told her to remove the blindfold. But she'd done as he asked anyway, because she was a soldier-in-training, and soldiers-in-training always followed orders. Then he'd said, I want you to learn how to find your way home, before walking away. She'd finished up her counting.
It hadn't been a game of Hide-and-Seek. She'd realized her father was gone and not hiding the moment she removed the blindfold. But she'd looked for him because she just couldn't bring herself to believe that her father would leave her alone, without food or more than a bottle of water, in the forest. She had wasted the hours between the middle of the afternoon and sundown by looking for him. By the time the forest grew dark, she'd accepted the fact that he wouldn't be coming back.
She'd cried herself to sleep, hidden among the roots of a large tree, on the first night. She'd wondered if anyone else in her family realized she was missing. She'd wondered if they would care enough to look for her.
On the dawn of the second day, she'd started hunting for tracks that would lead her back. She tried following her father's footprints, but that was an impossible task in the forest, and she could only look for signs that humans had passed by. She had no idea if they would lead her towards or away from home.
It turned out that her mum had realized she was missing and did care enough to look for her, because she'd been found on the afternoon of her third day. She had wandered miles (albeit in the right direction) from where her father had originally left her, and that was how they'd been unable to find her sooner.
Her mother had run up and hugged her.
Rivka had left Eli after that.
But Ziva had seen enough disappointment in his face at her failure, enough heartbreak over their leaving, to understand that she would have to work for the rest of her life to prove herself to him.
"Tali." Ziva settles herself on the floor of her sister's room, staring at her sister's back.
Tali flips around on her bed and meets Ziva's dark eyes. "All I need is a reason."
"It's different, Tali. I have to follow orders. I am the eldest."
"No you're not. Ari is."
"He's not a David."
They both know she's right. Ari will never measure up in Eli David's eyes, because he does not bear the same surname as the rest of them. To Eli David, Ari the bastard child is not much more than a mistake. To Eli David, Ziva is really the eldest and must be the one to uphold the family honour. Every single person knows it to be the truth.
Tali reaches out her hand and squeezes Ziva's cold one comfortingly. "Sometimes, abba's wrong."
"What difference does that make? You are free to disobey him sometimes. I am not. I have a different kind of duty on my shoulders."
"Maybe it's time you live for yourself."
Ziva laughs sadly. "Fancy ideas. You have been living with ima for too long."
"You've been living with her for longer than I have," Tali points out.
"Then maybe you hadn't been living with abba for long enough. Tali…I had to do it, do you understand?"
Tali frowns and then shakes her head slowly. "Ziv, I love you, but I will never understand. I don't have an issue with your killing someone. But couldn't it at least have been a terrorist?"
"If abba had asked me to shoot a terrorist-"
"You can't keep saying that! Abba isn't the only person whose word matters."
"Well, who else's does?"
Ziva sighs. "No. I wish it matters, but it will not until I have earned my right. Never mind that, Tali. Are you going to do the mission?"
"I cannot. It goes against my principles. They haven't done anything, and they don't appear to be about to do anything. They're just students…they deserve their freedom. They do not deserve to be spied on."
"And what are you going to tell abba?"
"That he can give me the mission when he detects terrorist activity in that group. I'll do it willingly then."
Ziva snorts a laugh. "He will not like it."
"No official Mossad officer will want to do that job anyway. He'll have to accept my terms."
Ziva stares at her baby sister, admiring and hating Tali's audacity at the same time. The young girl is so different from Ari and herself that she can't help but to envy the way Tali lives her life.
Some things, though, you just can't change.
Like the way Ziva David's life is meant to play out.
She smiles weakly and stands up. "Goodnight."
A/N: [Not necessary to read...]
I wanted to write this as a possible interpretation to Tali's "compassion", so this is as much a Tali-centric fic as it is a Ziva-centric one. It surprised me how much of Ziva's mentality I managed to touch on while describing Tali's lol, but then of course they're a family and it's all interrelated.
Tali's compassion first - I know the interpretation here is usually that Tali has 'no kill' values, but given that she grew up in a rather death-oriented family, I thought her and Ziva's definitions of "compassion" might differ from those of the majority of the society. It would be like compassion in NCIS - don't shoot unless you have to. I think that perhaps Tali was trained alongside her elder brother and sister, and thus developed the same skills that they did. However, she was younger when her mother took them away from Eli, and so may have been influenced by Rivka to a larger degree. Maybe she believed in innocent until proven guilty, and that was what Ziva called her "compassion".
Because Ziva says, "[Tali] was...the best of us," I think that she too values compassion, but doesn't think that she has it. This is what makes me think that she may have envied Tali's ability to fight for her own and others' rights, yet felt compelled to let such things take a back seat to national security. Ziva has a good heart, but an even stronger sense of duty. While post-NCIS Ziva has managed to strike a better balance, pre-NCIS Ziva was a lot more 'dutiful' towards her father, Mossad, and her country.
It's not that Ziva didn't have compassion. She did, and I think she sincerely wished she could practise it more, but at the same time she didn't think she should have compassion. Although modern families in Israel are more similar to those in modern-day US (according to Shirik), Ziva seems to have been raised very traditionally, with her father being the dominant figure of the family and herself being required to be respectful towards her elders. This gives me the idea that as the eldest biological child of the David family, she would've had certain pressures placed upon her to live up to Eli's expectations. Thus, she had to be willing to go to further lengths than Tali did.
This fic also touches a bit on Eli's mentality regarding family and children. When Ziva said she had no right for her words to matter, she didn't mean it in a self-deprecating manner but rather a matter-of-fact one. Eli's word is most important in her mind. As the younger generation, her wishes and opinions are secondary to his (as was shown in Aliyah), and she has to earn her place of respect in his heart. I don't think he means it in a bad way; it's most likely that he was raised the same way. This also explains how he feels about Ari, who is illegitimate, as well as how he could place importance on the eldest child, even if Ziva is a girl.
And that's my analysis! Lol it's like a mini essay...sorry to have put you through this...please leave a review on your way out, though!