Celebration

Author: Lawral

Pairing: McGee/Ziva

Rating: FR7

Summary: McGee is teaching Ziva the traditions of a McGee family birthday.

Knock. Knock.

Ziva opened the door of her apartment and found McGee standing on the other side with two bags in his hands and several strings clutched in his mouth. She looked up to the balloons and tried to keep herself from laughing in his face.

McGee walked inside the apartment and allowed the balloons to fly up to the ceiling as he released the strings from his mouth. "Where is he?"

"In the bedroom." Ziva pointed over her shoulder.

"Ok, we have to hurry. Now let me show you a traditional McGee birthday party." Tim walked into the kitchen and put the bags on the counter. "Ooh, did you get the cake?"

"Yes, it is in the refrigerator. Are you sure about this, McGee? He is not going to understand anyway."

"Come on, Ziva. It's tradition and even he deserves a birthday party. Please?"

Ziva took in his puppy dog appearance and smiled. He was definitely to cute to deny. She had gotten soft in her time in America but she couldn't ignore his enthusiasm of the impending celebration.

"All right, Tim. What is first in the tradition?"

McGee smiled and started to unpack the two bags he'd brought with him. He pulled out a package of what looked like blue toilet paper, a candle in the shape of a number '1', small blue plates, party hats and finally a package of party poppers.

"First, we decorate. You have tape, right?"

Ziva pulled out a roll of Scotch tape from what Americans called a "junk drawer" and handed it to him. He taped a bit of the blue paper to a corner of her living room wall and then twisted it a few times before taping the other end just beside the door.

"What is that?"

"It's crepe paper." Tim explained.

"And its purpose?"

"Uh," She'd stumped him on that one. "Mostly, this. To tape up in different fashions as decoration. It doesn't really have any other purpose."

"Then, why?"

Tim was practically dancing around the apartment as he draped the other three walls with blue crepe paper. He pulled the balloons he'd brought in and let them float wherever they landed. He did, however, grab a hold of the large "Happy 1st Birthday!" balloon and tie it to the leg of her coffee table.

"Just humor me, will you please?"

Ziva held her hands up in mock surrender. She watched as he returned to the kitchen, he came back into the living room with the party poppers and set them on the small table. He pulled the poppers from the package and set them in a neat row. Next he brought the plates and party hats into the living room.

He set the plates next to the party poppers and then took out the party hats he'd need. He placed one atop his head and then started toward Ziva with another.

"You will not put that cone hat on my head."

"Come on, Ziva. It's festive." He was met with a straight face. "It's tradition." Silence. "For me?"

She sighed again, the things she did for him. She took the blue hat and pulled the string and placed the cone on her head and the string just under her chin, emitting a pleased grin from Tim.

He went back into her kitchen and she could hear him rummaging around in drawers and cabinets.

"Do you need help?"

"No!" His voice called. "I'm just getting the cake."

Ziva sat down on the couch. What had she gotten herself into. She knew how to have birthday parties but Tim insisted that he wanted to show her the traditions of his family. She agreed to indulge him and he had sped off reciting the plans that he had for this special first birthday. Tim had gone all out, short of hiring a magician. He wanted something intimate, just the three of them.

Tim returned carrying the cake and presented it as if it were a priceless piece of art. He put it down on the table and went to retrieve the forks and the knife. He set them down and examined his work. The cake was ready, the apartment was decorated, guests were all there.

"Ooh!" He whipped around and pulled his camera from his jacket pocket.

"You have got to be kidding me." Ziva moaned.

"What? It's memories." Tim said, taking a few pictures of the set up and a close up of the cake. "We're missing something."

Ziva couldn't see what they were missing. Besides some sense. However, Tim suddenly remembered what it was and he dashed off to the kitchen again. He returned a final time with a lighter in one hand and two small presents under his other arm.

"Ok, when he comes out, we'll sing Happy Birthday and then he'll blow out the candle… we'll set off the poppers and then, well, he'll probably dive into the cake."

"What?"

"Yeah, we should probably cut our pieces before he sticks his face into it. My mother always had to do that with Sarah. The second that candle was out of the cake, WHAM!"

"Tim…"

McGee sat down and held up the lighter. "I'll light the candle, you go get him."

Ziva resigned once again and went down the hall toward her guest bedroom. Tim lit the candle and waited for her to return.

"Tim," She said rejoining him with The Guest of Honor. "This is absurd."

"How?"

"Tim… he's a dog!"

"Jethro's not just a dog. He's part of the family."