Title: Once Upon a Summertime

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters on NCIS, I'm just borrowing them for the story.


CHAPTER 26

Confessing Secrets

The living room at eight o'clock P.M

Gibbs took a seat in the arm chair next to the crackling fire place. The sound of the chair creaking a little as he sat down was the only other sound in the room at that moment. The four kids were very quiet, all mostly staring at the floor they were seated on in front of Gibbs. Jenny sat next to Gibbs on one of the kitchen chairs she had brought in. Next to Ziva lay the fluffy white dog that had suddenly appeared in their household. She was staring at Gibbs too, with her head tilted to the side as if trying to figure him out.

Gibbs now knew what had been going on these past few days. And he was not happy about having been tricked.

"Alright, all of you. Look at me." All four kids raised their chins just enough to look at Gibbs. "Explain," was all he said.

"Explain what, Gibbs?" Abby asked in a quiet voice, looking up at him with big, round innocent eyes.

"Tell us every little detail about what you've been doing to hide this dog from us."

Tim stopped scratching a mosquito bite on his knee. "Every detail? Are you sure?" he asked.

"Why?" Gibbs asked, unable to hide his irritation. "Have you done that much mischief that this will take all night?"

"N…n..no, no, Sir. Sorry." Tim lowered his eyes again.

Tony took over. "It's just that telling you every detail might take a while. Since…there are kind of a lot of them." Tony lowered his chin and studied the floor boards again. "We wouldn't want to bore you."

Gibbs leaned forward slightly in the chair. "I don't care," he said in a low voice. "Let's start from the beginning. Ziva," she looked up and met his steady gaze bravely . "When we couldn't find you the other morning you said you had been out in the tree house. Why did you lie?"

"Yes, it was untrue," she replied and chewed a little on her bottom lip.

Jenny stepped in now. "Well, where were you, Ziva? I know for a fact that your mother doesn't tolerate lying. We want to know what's been going on."

Ziva sighed. "I was in Gibbs' work shed." Her gaze shifted from steady to hesitant as if wondering if she should continue after having said that.

"And what were you doing in there, after I said you kids couldn't go inside without me?" said Gibbs with narrowed eyes.

"I…I hid the dog there the other night after I found her."

Gibbs could see they were moving closer to the ten million dollar question. "So, you found this dog?" he pointed at the animal on the floor, being patted by both girls at the same time on different ends of her fluffy body.

"Yes, Sir."

"Where?"

And Ziva dove into the story.

"I snuck out at night twice the first days here and ended up down by the pond." she started. "I wanted to look around the neighborhood and I really needed to be off by myself some, " she admitted and glanced at Jenny who was the more protective of the two Agents. "The second time I came down there I hid from that man, the one who chased me today. He came yelling, like he was looking for a dog. I hid under the bridge by hanging onto a board. When he had passed the railing broke as I was climbing up again and I was trapped hanging in mid air by one of my suspenders. I could not pull myself up but then the dog here appeared and rescued me. She helped pull me up."

Gibbs almost couldn't believe how much trouble these kids could get themselves into. First the airport where Ziva and Tony had wound up being chased by an airplane on the runway. Then the forest next to the adventure park where all four of them had taken off because of a dare and crossed paths with a snake. Now Ziva telling them of her sneaking out at night and almost falling from that bridge to her death or at the very least two broken legs.

"What about when Tim got mysteriously trapped up in the tree house?" Gibbs asked and crossed both arms over his chest. He directed his question mostly at Tony who swallowed visibly. "I told you I would find out what was going on eventually."

At first Tony seemed transfixed. He just stared at Gibbs with big eyes.

"Tony," Gibbs urged, reminding him that he was supposed to speak too.

"I…I tricked Tim up there as a diversion. So Ziva could sneak the dog into the house without being seen."

Gibbs nodded. "Mm hm. Kind of figured that."

Jenny ran her hands through her long red hair that hung loose around her shoulders. "Let me see if I've got this straight. You have been hiding that dog in the girls' room that long? What did you do with her when we were at the party?" Sudden realization spread across her face. "She chased that burglar away, didn't she? That's why he didn't take anything."

Gibbs and Jenny shared a look.

Tony bit his lip and glanced at Gibbs. Gibbs wasn't trying to be intimidating to the kids. But he did want the truth this time and intended to get it from them. All this keeping of secrets wasn't good for their relationship.

"Go on, Tony," Gibbs said.

"You're right, Jenny. The dog was here the night of the break in. She scared him away."

Tony and Ziva looked at each other and Ziva rolled her eyes a little and gave Tony a nod to continue.

"And before we all left for Ducky's we made a plan. The dog needed to be let outside once to go to the bathroom during the party…"he trailed off looking at the adults' faces, reading their expressions. "And I rushed back here when we were outside playing in the garden."

Gibbs gave tony a stern look which was all that was necessary to tell him he was not pleased with that plan.

"Tony, you can't run off on your own like that!" Jenny argued.

"Sorry," Tony mumbled.

Gibbs held up a hand. "There seems to have been a lot of lies surrounding that dog there," he pointed a finger at the dog and Ziva put a protective arm around her left leg. "And I've understood that she belongs to that man…"

"Belooonged, to that man, Gibbs," Abby put in. "She belongs to Ziva now. Right Ziva?" she spun to the side, almost catching Ziva in the eye with one of her pig tails.

"Yes, she does." Ziva turned to Gibbs. "Earlier today when he was chasing me he found out by accident that I had the dog. He wanted her back and I refused," she explained and patted the dog's head. "He hurt her, Gibbs. I could tell that night when I first met her. She is afraid of him. She hid from him and he yelled that he was going to beat her if she did not reveal herself."

Gibbs nodded. It sounded like the dirtbag chasing Ziva wasn't exactly an animal lover and he didn't think animals abusers were worth much leniency. But both him and Jenny were federal agents working for NCIS. They couldn't exactly encourage stealing.

Gibbs sighed and leaned forward, looking into the worried brown eyes of the eight year old girl in front of him. "Ziva…" he began. He reached his hand out to the dog for the first time and she immediately licked it with her rough tongue. He stroked the side of her head and she leaned into his touch. "This is truly a beautiful dog and I understand she has become very important to you." He leaned back and serious eyes locked on anxious, protective ones. "But she doesn't belong to you. She belongs to her owner."

Ziva sprung to her feet and the dog jerked at her sudden movement. "You cannot be serious!" she yelled. "You would give her back to someone who abuses her?! He will beat her!" she started pacing back and forth in anger, speaking angrily in Hebrew.

"Ziva honey, calm down," said Jenny with a worried look at the distraught girl in front of them.

"You…" Ziva started in a loud voice that sounded like it was about to crack at any moment.

"Sit down, Ziva," Gibbs said and she stopped pacing and stared at him, not used to his firmer voice. She took her seat on the floor again and Tony put a hand on her shoulder. Abby was hugging the dog with tears in her eyes and Tim had his bottom lip stuck out in worry of the situation. Gibbs cleared his throat. "I didn't say that was my final decision. Technically this dog belongs to that man. But showing up and chasing you across our back yard isn't exactly the best way to claim his dog back. So as long as he doesn't knock on the front door backed up with a local police officer and papers that say the dog belongs to him I'm not going to give her to him."

The sour expression lifted from Ziva's face and the rest of the kids looked up with surprise.

"However," Gibbs continued with a finger in the air. "That doesn't mean it's been decided you can keep her. You all hid her from us and haven't exactly been on your best behavior since that started."

"But Giiiiibbs…"Abby whined with pleading eyes towards the dog.

"He is right, Abby," Jenny cut in. "You can keep her in your room for now until we have decided the best course of action here."

The kids looked from Gibbs face to Jenny's, back and forth but they wouldn't find any leniency there. Gibbs knew they had to make a point. The kids spent an hour and a half cleaning up the kitchen prior to the talk with the adults. So, when they now dragged themselves upstairs to bed with the dog at their heels, they were four exhausted young ones. When they were halfway up the stairs Ziva turned around.

"Hey, Gibbs! When will you let us know your decision about…?"

Gibbs let his shoulders sag a bit and sighed with exhaustion. He then simply pointed upstairs. "Go!"


To be Conitnued soon

A/N: Please send a review :) The next chapter is almost finished and will be out soon.