The case had wrapped early and McGee, Abby and Palmer had gone to play Dungeons and Dragons. Early nights were a treasured commodity with the group and, while they had been kind enough to invite Tony to join them, none were surprised when he declined.
Gibbs had debriefed Vance and then disappeared down to Ducky's autopsy for the last several hours, leaving Tony to finish up the excess paperwork.
"Go home, DiNozzo," Gibbs said, setting a cup of coffee on Tony's desk as he strode by. "You've got other things at home that are more important."
"Go take care of Ziva," Gibbs said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"She's actually pretty content taking care of herself, Boss," Tony replied, returning to his paperwork.
Gibbs loomed over Tony's desk, glaring at his senior agent. "DiNozzo, you two just lost a baby. Regardless of what she says, go spend time with her. Go shopping. Get take-out. Give her a foot-rub. I don't care what you two do. Grieve."
Tony turned towards Gibbs and regarded him with a wary eye before clearing his throat. "Boss....," he started, his voice abnormally low and reserved. He couldn't look at Gibbs as he spoke, instead keeping his eyes trained on his desktop. "I wasn't the father."
To Tony, it felt like hours that Gibbs stood there glaring daggers of disapproval.
In fact it was mere seconds before the older man allowed the knowing twinkle to show in his eye.
"I know, DiNozzo."
Tony almost choked with surprise. "Boss?"
"For some reason, my team thinks I'm stupid," Gibbs grumbled. "You were on a ship, DiNozzo. The math didn't work. I've known since I saw the sonogram."
"Why didn't you say something, Boss?"
Gibbs smirked. "I was enjoying being proud of you, Tony," he said gently. "Didn't wanna ruin it."
Tony regarded Gibbs with surprise. Proud?
The silver-haired agent continued in a gentle voice. "There aren't many men that would step up and take responsibility for another man's baby. Especially not when it meant possibly losing their job."
Tony nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat that had risen when Gibbs said he was proud. "Would have been worth it, Boss."
"Everything," Tony said softly. "Seeing her be a mom. Helping her raise a baby. It would have been worth it."
Gibbs nodded. "Kids always are. Kelly was worth everything," he said simply.
It was one of the few times that Gibbs spoke openly about his daughter and Tony didn't take the moment for granted. He nodded respectfully, no witty retort crossing his lips.
Gibbs took a swig from his coffee cup. "Go home, DiNozzo," he repeated.
"I should really finish this report, Boss," Tony said simply, turning back to the computer and waiting for Gibb's shadow to move away before allowing his mind to drift from the incident report on the screen in front of him.
"It would have been worth it?" A soft voice interrupted his day dreaming a few moments later.
He turned his head and took in Ziva's casually dressed appearance and her comfortable position leaning against the corner of his desk.
"Hey. What are you doing here?"
"I came to take you to dinner," she replied simply. "But now I want to hear more about how 'worth it' we would have been. Worth losing your job?"
"How much of that did you hear?"
"Enough to be curious," she said, gently toying with the car-keys in her hand.
He turned in his chair, noting as he did so that Gibbs was nowhere to be seen.
She smirked at him. "Worth losing your job?" she repeated.
Tony half-shrugged. "You can't always have your cake and eat it, too. If I had to choose, it really wasn't a contest."
Ziva looked down, a lock of dark hair falling in her face. She felt him move to brush it out of her eyes and tuck it behind her ear for her. She quickly turned her head, landing a whisper of a kiss to his wrist before he pulled his hand away.
"You've changed," she said, resting one flip-flop covered foot on the chair, her toes brushing against his leg.
"In a good way or a bad way?" he asked, consciously keeping his hands to himself.
She shrugged. "I am not complaining."
"You're just saying that because I didn't question your medical skills last night," he said, holding up his bandaged hand with a grin.
"Perhaps," she agreed, repressing a grin. "Also because the man I met five years ago would never have risked his precious career to protect a crazed assassin and another man's baby."
"First off, you're not a crazed assassin. You're an investigator." He looked at her carefully before replying. "Secondly, there's not much I wouldn't do for you, Ziva," he said softly.
She curled her toes around the arm of his chair and gently drew her leg back, pulling his chair – and him- him closer to her. She reached out and touched his cheek, gently. "And I for you, Tony."
"You should go home and rest," he replied gently, not moving, her hand still on his cheek.
"You should come with me and supervise," she said as her thumb traced his jaw before faintly caressing his lower lip.
"Ziva-" He started to protest, knowing that his frustration at the constant sexually-charged banter would lead him into trouble. He needed some time away.
Or so he thought.
"Come home, Tony," she whispered. "I need help packing some baby items away."
"You haven't done that yet?" he asked simply, trying to sort his thoughts while her hand created very distracting sensations on his face.
"I was waiting for you," Tony watched as she shook her head, her curls bobbing. "I wanted to know where you got that beautiful blanket."
Her hand slipped off his face and back to her lap where she self-consciously toyed with her keys again.
"And the little jumper," she continued, referring to the Italian-themed onesy he had purchased for the baby.
"About that," he said. "It wasn't meant to-"
"I thought it was perfect," she interrupted, looking up and meeting his eyes. "You will make an excellent father someday, Tony." she said, repeating her words from earlier that week.
He looked away, unable to meet her gaze. "Maybe next time I'll get to enjoy the fun parts that come with actually making the baby," he said, trying to lighten the mood with the only jovial comment he could come up with.
"It is a possibility," she said with a smirk. Ziva took a deep breath and steeled her nerves. "I hear that Israeli and Italian genes make beautiful children."
Did she really just say that? He thought. "Know any single Israeli women who wanna settle down?" he said, still in his joking voice.
She lifted a dark brow in his direction. "Tony DiNozzo wants to settle down?"
"Stranger things have been known to happen. Besides, I'm getting up in years," he teased. "Maybe its time to find a good woman and put down some roots."
"'Find a good woman?'" Ziva mocked, chuckling. "As if anyone would put up with your crap." She slid off his desk and moved towards the elevator, hearing him sling his backpack over his shoulder and follow close behind.
"You put up with my crap just fine, Ziva."
"That is only because I do not let you get away with anything, Tony," she said, feeling him settle his arm around her shoulders and pull her to him as they waited for an elevator.
"I guess I'm stuck with you, then. Forever and ever."
"That is most unfortunate for you, Agent DiNozzo," she teased, wrapping her own arm around his waist.
"I dunno, Zee-vah. I think I got the better end of the deal. One smart, feisty, beautiful woman to keep me in line. What did you get? Sarcastic, obnoxious phys-ed major."
"With a protective streak and a fierce right hook," she added, grinning up at him. "I think you will do just fine, Tony."