Disclaimer: I don't own NCIS

a/n: This is the final installment of my Happiness series. I sincerely hope you've enjoyed it so far. If you haven't read either Happiness or Breathing, you should probably go do that. Find them on my profile page.

I think it's fair to say that each story has had an underlying theme (Happiness was returning, Breathing was recovering), and this one is no different. You should be able to figure it out in this chapter.

But I am writing too much, and you probably would like to read the story, so here it is:

Enjoy:

Ziva's POV:

--==--

-=-

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Pump left arm.

Pump right arm.

Move left leg.

Move right leg.

Clockwork.

I smile to myself and slow down my pace as I reach my building.

I missed running.

I do not know why I had not been allowed to train for six weeks. I can understand not going out in the field; if I had gotten into a fight with a suspect, the scar on my back might have reopened, and that would not have been good.

But not allowing me to run…

Overkill.

I hit the call button for the elevator as I wipe the sweat off my brow.

I am very out of shape.

While I have not mapped out an eight-mile loop in this neighborhood yet, I think I only did half of my usual distance. At a very slow pace.

I would be more upset, but it is to be expected: six weeks without training does that to a person.

I step in the lift and press the button for the third floor.

It has been tough adjusting to that, as Abby's, Tony's, and my previous apartment all were - or are - on the second.

Other than that, my new apartment is perfect.

Tony, Jimmy, and McGee all helped me move in yesterday. Abby provided us with entertainment and food as we hauled various items throughout the spacious apartment. The companies I had bought the furniture from were kind enough to bring it up to my room. After that, it was on us to put it in the correct spot.

Tony had complained incessantly about the piano he had to move from one room to another, though his complaints stopped as soon as the widescreen TV was delivered.

My father might not be good for much, but he did supply my financial requirements in this instance. I did not feel the need to be frugal.

It really is the least he could do, as it was one of his officers who blew up my previous place.

I step out of the elevator into the now familiar hallway.

I have only had one day in the building, but I still know everything about it. My observational skills seem to be back in full force.

I moved in yesterday morning, a Friday. Gibbs gave all of us the day off to help me out. This time I welcome the aid, as it would have been foolish to try to move the furniture by myself.

I unlock the door and step inside to my already de-cluttered home.

Most people have boxes of random things months after they move in. I did not have too many things to move.

Everything in my house is brand new aside from the clothes, though I had only gotten them weeks ago.

Tony has been calling me "new Ziva" and I have been calling him annoying. It is like it was before I went back to Israel.

I love that.

I mean, for the moment.

I know he was hurt when I rejected him a week ago, but he showed no sign of it.

Part of me wishes I did not have to pull away from his kiss. Okay, not just part of me. Every thing but the reasonable part wanted to kiss him back.

But it was the right call.

I sigh as I check the clock.

Just past noon. Abby should be over soon. She wants to help me get ready for the "housewarming" party.

I thought I had one last night, when I bought four large pizzas for the group after we had finished moving. Abby informed me that I was incorrect in my assumption.

Of course I will do anything to humor Abby right now. She let me spend six weeks in her living room.

I had offered to pay rent, and she refused. I had offered to pay for gas money, and she refused. I had offered to buy her groceries, and she refused.

Finally we settled that I would take her out to dinner every Wednesday. Obviously this does not even come close to her generosity, but it was all she would accept.

I do not actually know why Abby wanted to come over at 12:30 for a party that wouldn't start till 5:30.

She said something about making her world famous gumbo, though I have no idea what that is.

I should probably take a shower before she arrives. I suppose I do not have to clean anything up, as everything is brand new.

How odd.

-=-

Abby arrived exactly on time and immediately began decorating. I do not know why "streamers" as I believe they are called were necessary, but she felt they were crucial to the general ambience.

I helped her with start the gumbo and she helped me prep the shakshuka dish I wanted to make.

The food finished just as the first guests arrived. Abby has sort of taken charge after that, breaking out wine and champagne, before ushering everyone into the dining room.

"Well, I think a toast is in order," Ducky says, tapping a spoon against his glass.

Tony catches my attention across the table and he rolls his eyes ironically at me.

"Just for you, Anthony, I'll make it extra long."

I snort and McGee chuckles next to me.

"Obviously, Ziva, you have been back in the US for nearly two months now, but I believe we all cannot help but cherish every moment spent with you. The unfortunate events of the past months have brought me to the old Scottish Proverb: 'Fools look to tomorrow. Wise men use tonight' as I believe it holds particular bearing for our situation. We all work a dangerous job, and I believe all of us have at one point, been exposed to this fact."

Palmer awkwardly pulls on his collar and Abby elbows him.

"You were shot at!"

"Yeah, but I wasn't injured." He responds in a loud whisper.

"But Mr. Palmer, you still faced a peril most people do not. And that being said, we must enjoy the company we have tonight, for as morose as this sounds, we don't know if we can have the same tomorrow."

"Well said, Ducky," Tony says quickly, reaching for his fork.

"Thank you, but I am not finished."

Tony's distressed look is enough to make even Gibbs laugh.

"So this is not much of a toast anymore, but I will turn it into one: To Ziva, for coming back, and allowing us to enjoy your company at least once more."

A chorus of "To Ziva"s fill the room followed by several clinks of glasses.

I give Ducky an appreciative nod, before motioning to the group.

"Dig on."

I expect Tony to immediately ravish the food on his plate, but he gives me a quirky smile.

"Dig in, Ziva."

"Either way."

I know that in order to fully become self-dependent, I have to stop constantly having these group meals.

But right now, I do not care, because I am surrounded by the people I love.

McGee, the nerdy younger brother who always has the best intentions. Abby, the sister who has seamlessly transformed into my best friend. Palmer, the awkward cousin who I do not see much, but care for a surprising amount. Ducky, the verbose grandfather who is never short in wise words of advice. Gibbs, the father that I have always wanted. And of course Tony, the distant cousin who I should not have romantic feelings for, but do anyway.

Ducky is right. I should live for the night. I should enjoy this party and the people at it.

While I do agree with Ducky's words, it is hard not to look to tomorrow.

The future is something that I cannot predict, but as of now, it is looking a whole lot brighter.

-=-

--==--

The beginning of the end, my friends.

Once again, this chapter pretty much just set the scene for the story; we'll get more action next chapter.

I'd love to know what you think so far =]