Title: Strength
Pairing: Ziva/McGee
Rating: PG-13, for some Angsty Angst McAngst
Genre: Het
Cat: Romance, Angst, Fluff (Yes, I realize that's an odd combination - trust me here)
Spoilers: Kill Ari, pt. 2
Author's Note: Written for the Weekly Writing Game. Pairing was Ziva/McGee/Ari. Prompt was pregnant. It's a combination of super!fluff and super!angst. I hate using a title that's so similar to another title I have, but I suppose, that's what I get when I write so many stories.


"Have you ever thought about how we ended up together?" Ziva asked, resting her head on McGee's shoulder.

McGee brought his hand up and ran it through her hair. "I'm just glad we did, Ziva. I can't imagine not being with you." He pulled away to look her in the face. "You're a very special woman."

Ziva chuckled. "Yes, I am sure I am your only girlfriend who has known at least 2000 ways to kill you."

McGee smiled, but didn't share her laugh. "I'm serious, Ziva. I've never felt for someone the way I do for you."

Ziva suddenly tensed in her spot, then shifted nervously, removing her head from McGee's shoulder. "I . . . thank you."

He gave her a curious look. "What's wrong?" His face fell as he considered what her response could mean. "Oh." He withdrew his arm from around her shoulder, bringing his hand up to run through his hair. "Um, right. I shouldn't have gotten so used to this."

Ziva's mood changed as she returned the look of curiosity. "Do you think I am breaking up with you?"

McGee blushed. "Well, um, uh . . ."

"You do." Her voice was softer this time, hurt. She opened her mouth to speak, gathered her thoughts, then voiced what she was thinking. "Tim, our relationship has not always been easy for me." McGee closed his eyes, as if bracing himself for bad news. "But I like a challenge. As I know you do. Open your eyes." He did, reluctantly, and looked at her. "It is not easy for me to express my emotions, not even with those closest to me. But of all people, I should be telling you how I feel."

McGee gulped. "I don't want to lose you, Ziva. I can't lose you."

She placed a hand over his heart. "You will not lose me. Ever. Not if I have anything to say about it."

He gave her a relieved smile. "So you're not breaking up with me?"

She smiled back, tender and nervous all at once. "Now why would I do that right before I tell you . . ." She paused, bringing her hands down to his, lacing her fingers through his, and looking back into his eyes. "I love you."

McGee's smile could have lit up the entire city of Silver Springs at that moment. "Oh, boy. Wow. I mean . . ." He trailed off, searching for the words, as Ziva grinned at him. He squeezed her hands tighter. "I love you, too, Ziva. You have no idea how much. I'm just . . . Can I hug you or something?"

Ziva gave him a hearty laugh. "Either one. Though the 'or something' may have to wait." McGee's smiled died down when he realized Ziva had sobered. "Why? Ziva, come on. This whole getting serious right before telling me something amazing thing can't last too long."

She let out a softer laugh. "No, you are right. I will just say it and hope you still feel the same way."

McGee paled. "Ziva . . ."

She gave him a no-nonsense look. "Tim, I am pregnant."

He simply stared at her. "Pregnant? Like, you're going to have a baby pregnant? Wow."

Ziva closed her eyes, fighting back tears. "I know this is unexpected and I understand if you are upset . . ."

"Upset?" McGee interrupted her. "Why would I be upset? I love you, Ziva. I want to have a family with you. So what if we're getting started a little sooner than planned? That just leaves us more time to fill our house with little computer geek super ninjas." That elicited a laugh from Ziva, and McGee held his arm open to her. She snuggled into his embrace, her anxiety dissipated. "Don't worry, Ziva. We can do this. I know we can."

Ziva let out a sigh despite herself. "I am sure we can do it, as well."

McGee rubbed her arm. "Then what's wrong?"

She looked up to his face, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. "I know I have you and the rest of the team, but sometimes . . . I miss my brother." The tears finally fell, trailing down her cheeks.

"Oh, Ziva," McGee breathed, gathering her closer to him. "I had no idea. You just . . . you never talk about him. I always assumed it was because of what . . ." He trailed off, realizing how inappropriate that comment was. "I'm sorry."

Ziva caressed his hand, then squeezed it gently. "No, it is okay. You have a right to be angry. Ari was acting selfishly. I know that is not what you want to hear; you want to hear Caitlin died for a reason, something valiant." She paused, her fingers tracing the lines on McGee's palms. "He said Gibbs reminded him of our father."

McGee tensed, something that did not go unnoticed by Ziva. "But Gibbs . . ." he started, before Ziva shushed him.

"Ari never saw how Gibbs really is," she quickly corrected him. "I do not know his reasons for acting the way he did, whether it was because he received a better offer from Hamas or whether it was to gain some sort of revenge on our father."

"Didn't he have any loyalty to Mossad, to Israel . . . to you?" McGee's voice spoke of his disbelief.

Ziva closed her eyes in pain, causing McGee to tighten his grip on her. "I know my brother loved me. And I loved him. I was his control officer, Tim. I was supposed to be aware of his every move."

"You didn't know he shot Kate."

"Not until I arrived in America, no. And even then . . ." She looked into McGee's eyes. "I did not want to believe it. He was my brother. He would have been an uncle to my children, to our children."

McGee rubbed her arm soothingly. "It's not your fault he did the things he did."

Ziva gave him an ironic smile. "No, it is not, but I could have saved him."

McGee gave her a shocked look. "Gibbs would be dead if he hadn't shot Ari."

Ziva shook her head. "That's not what happened."

"Ziva, I know you cared about Ari, but you yourself admitted he was a terrorist . . ." McGee said, allowing the conversation to become more heated.

"I am not disputing that Ari longed to kill Gibbs," Ziva said calmly. "Listen to what I am saying. I need to tell you this because I love you and you deserve to know." She took a deep breath and continued. "The reason Gibbs survived that confrontation was not because he shot Ari . . ."

"But because you did," McGee finished quietly. Ziva remained silent, tears running freely down her face. "You couldn't say anything because of how it would look to Mossad. Oh, Ziva."

"I could have saved him, Tim. Instead, I was the one who took his life away." She dipped her head. "I had to do the right thing."

"Even though it was the hardest thing you've ever done," McGee said. He brushed his fingers under her chin and forced her to look at him. "You are the strongest person I know."

She gave him a weak smile. "Then your standards of strength must be rather low."

He shook his head. "Not everyone would have been able to admit to me what you just did. In my mind, it takes a stronger person to remember her actions and allow herself to feel. You're not a machine, Ziva. You're a human being, one I love very much. Crying doesn't make you any weaker." He rested his forehead against hers. "I'm glad you told me, as much as I'm sure it hurts you to talk about it."

She nodded, bringing her hands up to run through his hair, then land on his shoulders. "I do not want any secrets between us. Ari may be a difficult topic for us to discuss, but I also know a different side of him than NCIS does. I have good stories about him, as I know you do of Caitlin. She sounded like a wonderful person."

McGee smiled. "She was. And so are you. I wish she were still alive, but at least one good thing came out of her death."

Ziva allowed a tiny smile to grace her face. "We met."

"And that, Ziva, I wouldn't trade for anything in the world." He raised his head to kiss her forehead, then lowered it again, resuming their previous position. "Because now, I've found the person with whom I want to spend my life, and I'm going to be a father. And that is sounding pretty damn incredible to me."

Ziva chuckled. "Sometimes I think you are more of a girl than I am."

McGee shrugged. "Hey, I'm not the one having the baby here." He looked down at her stomach, then back to her face, seeking approval. She smiled, giving him the go-ahead, and he gently placed his hand on her abdomen. "Our child is growing inside you right now. Do you have any idea how amazing that is to me?"

"I'd imagine it's close to how amazing it is to me," Ziva responded, placing her hand over the one on her stomach. "Tim, I never imagined I would find a spot in my life that allowed me to have a child. I am used to danger and fighting for my own life and now . . . We will have a child to protect. Our child."

McGee sighed gently. "It will take some getting used to, but I know we can do this. Nothing bad is going to happen to our baby."

Ziva looked down at their hands. "Don't say that, Tim. You can't keep that promise."

He rubbed her stomach gently before raising his hands to cup her face. "I know that I can't control life, and I know that things happen that are beyond our control, but we can have faith that we'll be able to prevent the worst from happening to our children." He leaned his forehead against hers again. "How's that sound to you?"

Ziva smiled. "It sounds to me like we are going to be very happy for a long time." She wrapped her arms around him, drawing herself into him.

He returned the gesture, eyes closed in happiness. "I love you, Ziva. And that is one thing I can promise."

Ziva smiled happily. "Me too, Tim. Me too."