This was done for a challenge given to be my Alex. E. Andras for the promt of 'sobbing the attic'. It strayed a bit from that idea, mainly because of my recent purchase of 'More Great Lies To Tell Small Kids'...which I highly recommend to anyone. I hope you enjoy this! I'm thinking of doing more involving these characters in similar family situations if this one does well :)
Would I Lie To You?
There was sobbing in the attic. Actual sobbing. Loud sobbing. In the attic. Of all places.
Okay, they could understand that it had its advantages for a sobbing location. First off all, it was dry, which was handy considering the torrential rain outside. Secondly, it was the last place you'd look for someone crying, especially when you considered that someone crying that loudly was obviously a child and therefore obviously wanted to be found to receive comfort. Thirdly, if in the instance that you didn't want to be found, it was almost impossible to find a way up there.
Especially if you'd found a way to disable the ladder leading up to it.
"Impressive," Tony noted with a nod.
Ziva turned to him, giving him her classic 'are you kidding me?' stare, the ultimate mixture of mental exhaustion and complete disbelief.
"What?" he asked defensively. "I'm just saying."
"This is not something to be pleased about, Tony," she pointed out. "It is especially not something to be proud of."
"I wouldn't be so sure," he said, indicating at the broken fragments of ladder at their feet. "The carpentry..." he caught her eye again, noting the stare she was giving him had changed from 'seriously?' to 'finish your sentence and die'. "Right, not proud. Bad. Got it."
She sighed, gesturing at the open attic hatch before folding her arms. "I don't understand how..."
"I don't understand who," he cut her off.
"Tony, you make your living as an investigator," she reminded him. "Either you aren't paying attention on purpose just because it is a weekend, or you desperately need a new career."
Right, he told himself, grabbing hold of his 'work mode' part of his brain and fighting it into gear. Assess the situation: sobbing in the attic. Female sobbing. That narrowed it down, especially since Ziva was standing next to him and that left only one option. If he wanted to go with even more evidence, he could have noted the purple hair scrunchie caught up on the broken wood, and the fact he'd heard this cry several (but not many) times in the past few years.
"Maya," he realised.
"Congratulations," Ziva told him sarcastically. "You are not an idiot."
"Perhaps if we could stop insulting my intelligence-"
"It is an easy target," she interrupted him.
"-we could figure out a way to get our daughter out of the attic," he finished, ignoring her dig. "I mean, I didn't even know she knew where I kept the tools."
"Tony, do not be ridiculous," she half-laughed. "She is nine, she is not oblivious."
He sighed, rubbing his eyes. "Okay, so what do we do?" he asked her.
"I will go up and talk to her," she said simply. "Obviously something has upset her."
"How do you intend to get up there?" She just looked at him, as if to indicate a number of easy ways she could get up into the attic. "Right, of course. Ninja stuff."
"I will talk to Maya," she told him.
"What should I do?"
"Keep the boys out of trouble."
Oh, no. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, a cold shiver running down his spine. Don't misunderstand; he loved his sons more than anything. His kids were his world, and he didn't doubt being a father for a single second. Daniel and Jacob, however, were less of five year olds and more torpedoes without an off switch.
"Just do it," she told him, before he could argue. "It is not that difficult, Tony, and they adore you."
"Why can't we play with Maya?"
"Is she angry about the worm?"
Okay, so that explained the crying. The boys weren't too pleased about being told the game they had going in the playhouse at the bottom of the garden was no longer going to happen. It was bad enough that they'd insisted on going into the playhouse in this awful winter weather anyway, but that was why he and Gibbs had built it for them. The makeshift soldier hats were completely askew, and there was mud on their cheeks even though they were inside.
"Maya's having some Mom Time," he explained. "So we're going to play just the three of us for a while."
He'd tried to make it sound fun. He'd tried to use as much enthusiasm as possible.
It hadn't worked.
The boys looked at one another, using their twin telepathy (which Abby swore they had) to decide on his fate. Daniel, always the more outspoken of the pair, made the decision heard. "I don't think you'll be a very good Princess Hostage for us to rescue."
No, he supposed he wouldn't. He couldn't really find fault with that.
"Well, how about we play a different game?" he suggested.
They looked at him as if he had suggested they have a bath and go to bed early.
"Come on, it'll be fun," he grinned.
"What game?" Jacob asked.
"Well...." now there was a question. Improvise, he told himself. Improvise. Improvise. Improvise.... "You know," he said casually, "One in every eight worms has a piercing."
"Wow...." they cooed.
"Yeah," he continued to lie. "And one in every ten has a tattoo."
At this, they seemed to suspect something. "What kind of tattoo?" Daniel asked suspiciously.
"It says 'death to all ants'," he improvised again.
But as the boys gathered up their waterproof coats and boots, he couldn't help but wonder that perhaps if worms were the reason that his daughter was crying in the attic, then he shouldn't have sent his sons out to find them.
The worms had been a mistake. A big mistake. A messy mistake. He'd turned his back for thirty seconds and disaster had begun. Luckily, he'd managed to confiscate the shovel from them and replace the dirt back into the hole they'd started digging right where they'd buried Frank and Nancy, the rabbits they'd got for the kids last Christmas who had a bad run in with next doors dog three days after Christmas.
"Are you sure about this, Dad?" Daniel asked doubtfully, pressing his face into the glass.
"Absolutely," he sighed, leaning back into his chair a bit more.
"They don't look very scared," Jacob pointed out.
"Do you think I'd lie to you guys?" Tony asked, looking a little insulted.
"Yes," they chorused instantly.
"Hey!" he said, lifting his head from the back of the couch. "I don't lie, okay? We don't tell lies in this family."
"You lie to Mom all the time," Daniel said.
"When?" Tony tested.
"You lied that you didn't get in trouble with Uncle Gibbs every day," Daniel pointed out.
"That's not every day," Tony denied.
"You lied that you didn't eat the last bag of chips."
"Yeah!" Jacob cried. "You said that I ate them all and Mom thought it was my lie."
"That never happened," Tony lied again. "Look, we don't tell lies, okay?"
"Okay," they both sighed.
"Now keep looking," Tony told them, as they both pressed their faces back against the fish tank. "Because one in every ten fish really is scared of water."
"Okay, are you ready?" he asked them dramatically.
"Ready!" they nodded.
"On your mark....get set....GO!"
With a clap of his hands, the two boys gripped the edges of the dining room chairs they were sat on, pulling upwards as fast as they could. They pulled and they strained and they made growling noises much like the time they were playing "tigers in Mommy's closet".
"Come on!" he coached them. "You really can hover in the air if you pull hard enough," he told them. "But you've got to pull up with all your strength."
"We can't!" Jacob complained.
Tony gasped loudly. "Is that 'giving up' I hear?" he asked. "My boys? Giving up?" He tutted. "DiNozzo's never give up!"
They repeated his mantra over and over, until they were both convinced that they really had levitated on their chairs.
When their arms were tired, the waterproof boots and jackets had gone back on, with the rain having stopped but it was still very wet in the garden. But this was a mission of epic proportions, not to be unprepared for, so they were happy to be swaddled in plastic for this mission.
"Right, are you ready, gentleman?" he asked, marching backwards and forwards between his two 'troopers', as they stood to attention at the back door.
"I can't hear you," he lied.
"That's more like it!" he told them. "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is one that never ends. Are you ready for that kind of commitment?"
"Okay!" He opened the back door, indicating to the back yard. "It is very important that every single ant in the back yard has a name!" he instructed them. "If a single ant goes unnamed in that yard, the fate of the world will be at stake. Is that clear?"
They ran into the back yard, all too enthusiastically, he couldn't help but think....this was almost too easy.
"It's not here!"
"Yes, it is," he called back.
He couldn't see the two boys from where he was lying on the bottom bunk bed, but he could see the path of destruction they had left behind them. A massive pile of toys and clothes was blocking the entrance to their closet, effectively trapping them in there, because they just had to move every single item in there to check for their prize.
"I can't see it!"
"You're just not looking hard enough," he told them, flicking to the next page of his latest movie magazine.
"But in the movie it's behind the coats!" Daniel pointed out.
"Our coats are in the hall," Jacob said.
"That doesn't mean it isn't there," Tony told them. "All the doorways are differently."
"I thought there was only one?" Daniel said.
"No, no...there's two."
"And the only other one is in our bedroom?" Daniel asked.
"Look, I'm telling you. I saw Mr. Tumnus looking through your laundry basket for food the other day. I swear," he told them, with his hand over his heart (and his other fingers crossed).
At that moment, a dark curly head appeared beside him, and climbed up onto the bottom bunk. "Hi, Daddy, watcha doing?" Maya asked, as she lay beside him for a hug.
"Hey, pretty girl," he said, letting her get comfortable reading over his shoulder. "You feeling better now?"
"Yeah," she said, with a nod.
"Good," he nodded. "Maybe next time we're feeling sad, we could leave Daddy's power tools alone, though?" he suggested.
She just giggled, which he took to mean a yes.
"Tony, what on Earth-?"
Ziva stood in the doorway, looking more confused than the boys had when he suggested his final plan.
"Mom!" The twins cried, jumping out of the closet and knocking over the barricade of clothes and toys in the process. They rushed over to her, hugging one leg each as they begged her to save them.
"What is going on?" she asked. "What have you been doing, you are filthy. Tony I asked you to keep them occupied-"
"I did," he defended innocently.
"Doing what?" she asked him.
"Lying!" Daniel snapped.
"Excuse me?" Ziva asked.
"Daddy's been lying again," Jacob nodded.
"He has?" Ziva asked, looking back to Tony who shook his head defensively.
"He told us that worms had tattoos!"
"And that fish are scared of water!"
"And that we can fly on our chairs!"
"And that we had to give all the ants in the back yard a name!"
"And that Narnia is in the back of our closet!"
In the silence that followed, Ziva and Tony looked at one another. Tony shook his head and indicated to the pile of destruction in front of the closet. "I told them to tidy their room or there will be no dessert after dinner," he defended.
"I am not surprised," Ziva agreed, noting the size of the pile which was larger than the boys themselves. "How your room got into this state, I will never understand..."
"We were looking for Narnia..." Daniel justified.
"Do not be ridiculous, Daniel," Ziva sighed. "We discussed that your father's movies are not real last week, did we not?"
"But there really was a monster in my closet, and I really did go through the closet and into the monster world with him-"
"If that is so, how could Narnia also be in the closet?" Ziva challenged.
Daniel had no answer to this.
She just sighed again. "Really, Daniel, this lying has got to stop. We do not tell lies in this family."
"No," Tony said, sticking his tongue out as Ziva's back turned. "We don't."
Well...maybe little white lies.