Author: brightblue PM
In the wake of Judgment Day, Tony and Ziva finally admit their feelings for one another. But as oceans, miles, and intelligence organizations come between them, will they ever find their way back together again? AU from Judgment Day. Sequel to Tether.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Tony D. & Ziva D. - Chapters: 22 - Words: 79,180 - Reviews: 423 - Favs: 190 - Follows: 133 - Updated: 10-12-09 - Published: 04-01-09 - Status: Complete - id: 4963043
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Wow, that time flew by too fast! I admit, I got stuck here and maybe didn't want to let go of this baby… But here it is anyway! ENJOY! And, just a reminder, all date stamps are based on "present day" being when Tony and Ziva reunite in Barcelona, so keep that in mind. Regardless, you should be able to figure out where in time these pieces fit. More notes below! Onward!
Italy – D.C. – Haifa – D.C.
Italy – One year later
"Sarah, you have a delivery!"
Sarah brightens as she shuffles up to the nurses' station. It's been a long shift and who doesn't like to get a special delivery?
"What's this?" She asks the receptionist who signed for the brown box awaiting her. The receptionist gives her a strange look in return. Sarah laughs. "It was more of a rhetorical question. I wasn't expecting anything."
Picking up the box, about the size of a shoebox, and giving it a shake, Sarah isn't any more clued in as to what awaits her. There is no return address on the box, but the shipping receipts indicate it came all the way from the States. She tries to remember where her father is traveling at these days.
A letter opener makes quick work of the packing tape and she tosses aside the shredded paper that fills the box. When she sees what's at the bottom, she smiles.
"Oh!' She exclaims, pulling the familiar hat out of the box. "Mat's hat!"
The receptionist raises her eyebrows. Sarah doesn't bother to explain, but she remembers the strange patient that she had over a year ago. Sophie…. no, Ziva David, the Mossad officer who escaped her captors and wound up unconscious and pregnant in her hospital bed. Sarah's fingers trace over the well-worn stitching on the front of the hat—San Marco Regiment, it reads.
Sarah smiles. She places the cap gingerly on the counter. Returning to the box, she laughs when she finds another hat. This one is emblazoned with NCIS across the front. She racks her brain—Naval Criminal Investigative Services, she thinks. That must be where Ziva's man works.
"Mat will like this," she giggles to herself as she places it next to her other hat.
Finally, she pulls an envelope from the bottom of the box. Inside are a note and a picture. The note reads:
Thank you for your kindness. With your help, I survived.
Enjoy the hat.
P.S. Thank your father as well. Apparently he has become quite the pen pal with Thom E. Gemcity.
Sarah has to grin at the short note. She remembers her father gushing about his conversations with his favorite author.
Beneath the note is a snapshot, a family photo. When Sarah studies it, tears jump into her eyes. There is the woman she recognizes as Ziva, well, almost doesn't recognize because the woman in the photo looks much happier and healthier than she ever did when their paths crossed before. In her arms, Ziva cradles a chubby, dark-haired baby in a yellow sundress. The baby has wide brown eyes and a happy grin. She is clasping her hands and looking up in amusement at the man next to her, her father, and presumably the man Ziva talked of during her time in the hospital. Sarah studies the handsome man and his brilliant smile, a gift he clearly gave his daughter.
Sarah clutches her heart at the sheer romance of it all.
Stuffing her treasures back in the box, Sarah blinks back the moisture in her eyes and charges in the direction of the lounge. Just wait until her coworkers hear this story.
D.C. – Six months later
"C'mon, c'mon! Move it, grandpa!" Tony mutters as he dodges a slow-moving elderly couple in the parking garage. In his haste, he nearly topples over the old man and receives a gesture unbefitting someone so advanced in years in response.
"Federal agent!" He flashes his badge and a toothy grin, which fades as soon as he turns his head, and he takes off in a sprint towards the stairwell. "Important business!" He yells just before the stairwell door slams shut behind him.
Get there, DiNozzo! Move your ass and get there!
It's enough to get his legs pumping faster; he takes the stairs two at a time.
By the time he makes it into the hospital, he is gasping for breath. He keeps his badge out, waving it at anyone who dares to glance at him in the wrong way. He recalls the room number from Abby's text and finds himself sprinting up five more flights of stairs.
His lungs are on fire by the time he makes it to room 512, but that hardly matters. The door is open so all he has to do is cut the corner and skid inside.
"Am I too late? Did I miss it?" He huffs, bending to put his hands on his knees and inhale some much needed oxygen.
He glances up to catch the murderous eyes of his beloved Ziva. A sheen of sweat shines on her brow and she is pointing to her still very pregnant belly with a withering glare.
"Nope, guess not, fantastic," Tony pants out as he rushes to her side. He ignores her death stare in order to drop a kiss on her forehead, cupping her face in his hand. "How's it going, sweetcheeks?"
Ziva just grunts in response and jerks her face out of his hands. Tony winces, but takes a seat next to her bed anyway.
"Tony! You made it!"
Tony looks up in relief, glad that at least someone is acknowledging his presence. He beams at Abby, who enters the room decked out in what he is certain are not regulation scrubs. Not unless Bethesda is letting their staff wear scrubs decorated with skulls and crossbones these days.
"We were at a crime scene out in West Virginia when I got the message. I hauled ass to get here. I got pulled over twice!"
"And I hope you didn't abuse your badge to get out of those tickets, DiNozzo," Gibbs warns as he strides into the room, coffee in hand.
Tony's mouth drops open. "Unbelievable." When Tony got Ziva's first phone call that her water had broke, Gibbs had allowed him to take the car and head out immediately while he and McGee wrapped up the scene and drove the truck back. "How did you get here so fast?"
Gibbs just shrugs. "What's your status, Ziver?"
"I am glad someone cares enough to ask," Ziva grumbles.
"Hey!" Tony turns to regard his girlfriend and mother of his child. "I did ask!"
"You know, Tony," Abby interrupts with a raised hand. "I wouldn't really mess with a woman in labor. Especially a Ziva in labor. She had a really big contraction a few minutes ago and threatened to kill you in a way that I didn't know was actually possible."
Tony raises his eyebrows, curious. "And how was that?"
"Do you really want to know, DiNozzo?" Gibbs makes a valid point as he takes a seat in a chair. Abby nods her agreement as she places a cup of ice chips on Ziva's tray and moves to fluff her pillows. Tony just watches this whole scene with confusion. Is this really happening right now?
Shifting his attention away from the two interlopers to the person he actually cares to know about, Tony finds Ziva closing her eyes. Her features are drawn taught; she is clearly in pain. Tony frowns.
"Contraction, Ziva?" He asks worriedly. The whole labor thing wasn't a step he gave much thought to prior to this moment. No, that isn't true. There was the time, in preparation for this big day, he made the mistake of studying some highly disturbing images in one of Ziva's books and decided to not think about it ever again. But now, seeing Ziva's face pale with pain, her and the baby hooked up to various machines, even reminding himself that this is a natural, expected, routine process is of little comfort. Ziva is hurting and that will never not hurt him.
"Good observation. You should be a detective," Ziva murmurs, though there is little sarcasm or energy in her tone. Tony laughs weakly at her joke, figuring it best to concede to her mood than risk getting in a tiff. He notices Ziva is gripping the blankets as a release and so he offers up his hand instead.
"Other hand!" Both Abby and Gibbs snap and he switches hands just in time. As soon as Ziva has his left hand in her grip, he's hollowing in pain.
"Yeee-ow! Woah there, ninja! I'm going to need that hand!"
Ziva squeezes harder and he shrinks back a bit at the glimmer he catches in her eye. Then, she's growling at him. "This is your fault, DiNozzo! This is your giant, Italian baby trying to claw her way out of a very small opening!"
Tony grimaces, only slightly offended. Baby DiNozzo is already tipping the scales, according to the doctor, which Tony attributes to the sandwich-lust that Ziva seemed to develop during her pregnancy. His little girl is already appreciating the finer things in life. But he won't shoulder all the blame for their rabble-rousing kid. "Hey, she's half Israeli assassin!"
Ziva narrows her gaze at him but before she can respond, exhales. Her grip on his hand loosens and Tony takes the moment to shake some feeling back into the appendage.
"That was a bad one, huh?" Abby says sympathetically. She signals wildly to Tony for a moment, and it takes a few seconds to realize she's gesturing at the ice chips. Getting the hint, Tony pushes the plastic cup toward Ziva.
"Yes," Ziva says tightly. She rubs her belly and breathes, completely ignoring the ice chips and everyone in the room. Tony studies her for a moment.
Then, something clicks in Tony's brain. He springs up from his chair and points at Abby and Gibbs.
"Abby, you'd better go call McGee. He's probably waiting for an update since he had to drop the truck back at the Navy Yard." Tony confirms this supposition with a nod from Gibbs. "But make the call out in the lobby."
Abby makes a face, but complies with a salute to Tony and kiss to Ziva's cheek. Gibbs doesn't move.
Tony shuffles his feet. "Uh, would you mind giving us a minute, boss?"
"Sure thing, DiNozzo," Gibbs acknowledges with a wink before leaving the room.
Tony lets out a sigh of relief.
"Finally! They would not leave me alone!" Ziva collapses on her pillows.
Turning to her, Tony smiles and slides back into the chair next to her bed. This time, when he takes her hand and kisses her, she responds with a grin.
"You were worried I wouldn't make it," he teases, brushing some hair from Ziva's face. "You were worried I wouldn't be here with a hand for you to maim."
Ziva leans into his touch. "I am glad you made it."
"Me, too," he says. He's already missed so much; he would never forgive himself if he missed this, too. They are silent a moment, just looking at one another. Trying to read the intensity in Ziva's eyes, Tony asks, "Are you scared?"
Ziva shakes her head. She squeezes his hand. A grin plays on her face. "No. Excited. Are you scared?"
"No," Tony shrugs, grinning back. Six months doesn't seem like a long enough time for his life to completely change. But it has. And he's never been happier. He kisses Ziva's hand. "We can do this, Ziva."
Ziva cocks her head at him, giving him a look. "Of course we can, Tony," she says and sits up straighter. "Now promise me you won't let Abby anywhere near this room with a video camera."
He laughs. "I'd like to see her try."
Hours later, Tony is sitting in the same hospital room, the lights turned low. Ziva is snoring softly on the bed. Her hair is a mess; her face screams exhaustion, even in slumber. And yet, she's never looked more beautiful to him.
"You are lucky, little girl," he whispers to the infant in his arms. She blinks slowly in response, fighting sleep. "Your mommy is the most wonderful woman in the world. If anyone ever messes with you, you know Daddy will gladly take them down. But they truly need to be scared of Mommy. Got that, peanut?"
Tony finds himself breathing tentatively, scared that one wrong move will upset the precious bundle in his arms and that's the last thing he'd ever want to do. His little girl is looking up at him, completely helpless with her big, dark eyes and wrinkly face, and any doubt in his mind that this was the right thing to do has fled completely.
I think you've finally done something right, DiNozzo.
Smiling, he watches his family sleep.
Haifa, Four years later
The sun beats down on Eli David as he watches waves lap over the shore, one wave, and then another. One crests, one breaks, up and down…. He keeps his gaze fixed on the water, on its dance across the shoreline, trying to lull himself into some sort of state of relaxation. His doctor recommended it. Apparently, constant awareness will help you ascend to the highest ranks of an intelligence organization but assume the same level of vigilance in retirement and suddenly you are at risk for heart disease.
Bored his eyes drift from the sea closer to shore. Two figures in his line of sight catch his attention. A cloud shifts, releasing a burst of sunlight. Eli grimaces and adjusts his beach umbrella accordingly. He returns his gaze to the girls up the beach.
He allows himself a smile.
The roar of the wind and waves prevents him from eavesdropping on the conversation being had, but the body language of its participants tells him it's of the upmost importance.
His daughter, the one he nearly let himself lose, has dragged her beach chair to the water's edge. Gentle waves roll in under her feet as she digs her toes into the wet sand. The breeze whips her long hair in her face but she doesn't seem to mind. Her face opens up to the warm sun as she smiles in contentment.
She is bent forward, addressing the little girl playing in the tide at her feet. Not just any little girl. His little girl, his granddaughter, his princess and shining star—say what you will about him as parent, all the many mistakes he's made, but that darling child digging holes in the sand is worth it all.
Sadie is her name, though he only ever calls her by its Hebrew origin, Sarah. She is a bundle of energy; he doesn't remember Ziva or Tali or even Ari ever finding so much joy in blazing down the beach. But for now she sits in contemplation, considering the mounds of sand she is building. Her mother gives her simple directions that she tries to follow. The look of concentration on her face reminds him of Ziva, the one who was always learning, always aware of her environment. But the mischief in her eyes, the carefree lightness in the air about her, is all Tali. He sees shades of himself, too, and his departed wife, and others that are no longer with him.
The toothy grin that often explodes on Sadie's face is clearly inherited from her father, a fact that Eli tries to ignore.
Ziva turns from her daughter, letting her play without interruption, and scans the horizon. Eli follows her gaze, noticing the way Ziva's whole face seems to light up when she sets her sights on the man he has come to accept as his son-in-law.
Anthony DiNozzo wades up the beach, beaming as he shakes the water from his hair. By the time he makes his way out of the water and up the sand to his daughter and wife, he has made quite a mess of things. Eli can't help but smirk in amusement when Ziva scolds him for dripping on her. Sadie seems to find this amusing and erupts in laughter, little arms reaching up for her father. Eli watches as Tony plays the clown for Sadie, dancing and showering the girls in even more drops of ocean water. Sadie claps and giggles and then squeals with delight as Tony scoops her into his arms, rewarding her with tickles.
For all the reasons that Eli disapproves of Ziva's choice in a husband, he can never deny that Tony is a doting father. Tony never fails to find joy in the role, something Eli regrets rarely experiencing himself. How do you feel joy when your only focus is keeping your children safe? Keeping the future safe for their children?
The other reason Eli has come to grudgingly accept DiNozzo into his family is made apparent a second later. As Tony manages the squirming toddler in his arms, he glances down at his wife. At Eli's only remaining daughter. The affection, the love, on his face is plain. Ziva says something that makes Tony laugh and hoist Sadie closer to his body. Content, Sadie curls up against her father's chest. Tony ruffles the dark waves of hair on her head before leaning down to drop a kiss on Ziva's lips. Then, Tony kneels down next to Ziva's chair in the sand. Taking Sadie's small hand in his, he places them both on Ziva's pregnant belly. Ziva smiles and helps guide their hands to where his grandson is making his presence known.
With a serene smile, Eli leans back in his chair and watches the happy family interact. At least he got this. At least after all the death and suffering and bad decisions, there is this.
Well, he must've done something right.
Washington, D.C. – 10 weeks ago
The day is sunny and calm. A perfect spring day. The funeral was a mix of pomp and restraint, something Jenny would've liked.
Ziva stands still on the cemetery lawn as the crowd filters out. She folds her arms across her chest, fighting off a lingering chill that should not be present in the sunshine. A gentle breeze floats across her face, teasing her hair, and keeps Ziva focused on the present.
She lost a friend today and, in some ways, a member of her team and family. Ziva has lost many people along the way. The feeling isn't foreign to her. The tightness in her chest surprises her though, as well as the anticipation that prickles her skin. Something doesn't feel right, but she tries to shake that sensation off. What would feel right on a day like today?
Ziva watches Tony pay his last respects to his boss's boss. She takes in the hard lines of his body, drawn so taught by the stress of guilt and grief. She waits for him to approach her. They say nothing, don't even look at one another, but soon fall in step together as they walk towards their team's car. Every few feet she allows her path to falter so that their arms brush. The sharp, labored intake of his breath only adds to the weight pushing down on her, making it so intense that it takes all her willpower to keep from grabbing Tony's hand or pulling him into her arms if only to release the pressure. It is then she realizes that it isn't grief she feels, but some other emotion she cannot label at present if she wants to keep her distance.
She catches Tony's eyes, tries to offer him strength with her gaze, but finds her own breath catching in her throat at the storm she sees brewing in him.
The breeze picks up and her hair that isn't secured up gets in her face. Ziva bats it away as they walk on. The sky is blue, a brilliant, clear blue that would've made Jenny happy, and Tony is beside her and holding himself together for now. Things are not good, but Ziva has no reason to suspect they won't improve. No reason except the gnawing in her gut that she cannot deny no matter how much she'd like to do just that.
Then, suddenly, Tony grabs her hand. The gesture is so unexpected that it causes Ziva to stumble just a little. He laces his fingers through hers and the warm pressure of his skin lets her breath normally. Finally.
Ziva tries to catch Tony's eye, to determine the meaning behind the touch. But he still doesn't look at her. And she doesn't try to remove her hand.
They continue on their way. It is only when they are several yards from the car, closer to the watchful eyes of their teammates that their hands untangle. Ziva shivers at the loss of touch, at the loss of her connection to Tony. It cuts deeper than it should. Tony seems to sense her thoughts and offers her a wink of reassurance. But even that seems empty, hopeless.
Ziva sighs and gets in the car.
Why does she have the feeling that everything is about to change?
AN: Wow! I cannot believe this is finally, finally finished. I admit I toyed for a long awhile with what I wanted to include in this last chapter. It wasn't easy, but I am happy with the place we got to and I hope you are too! This is huge for me because it's definitely my longest story to date (close to 200 pages, wow!). I learned so much about myself as a writer and these characters. The journey this story took was nothing like I thought when I started out, but it was well worth it. I want to thank all of you who took the time to drop little notes and reviews along the way. It's lovely to get notices that people are adding this story to their favorites or alerts, but it's even lovelier to get a sense of how people are reacting to this story. Now that it's done, I would love to hear your thoughts…. it's been a long ride for us all, I'm sure!
Here's to what's shaping up to be a great 7th season! I hope to see you again soon!