A/N: Hello again. I was talking with a friend and we decided to roleplay how Ziva returning to Israel for Chanukah would play out. It gave me a huge plot bunny. So here you are. Should be about ten chapters. It's a shorty. Long chapters, though, so watch out. Love, Kat.

Disclaimer: Well, we all know what I do and don't own. I especially wish I owned Caf-POW, but alas, I don't. Oh, and I don't own Santa, either.


NCIS Headquarters
Friday, November 26, 2010
900 Hours

"Tonyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!" Abby cried, running at the Senior Field Agent full-throttle. "Merry Christmas!" As she threw her arms around his neck, Ziva wondered briefly whether she was going to strangle him or not.

"Abbs," he murmured, hugging her back, "it's the day after Thanksgiving. You have three more weeks before Christmas, at least."

Jumping away from him, the Goth girl shouted, "So? Christmas can be year-round if desired, and I desire it. So, lay off!" Tony raised his eyebrows at her and smirked. "Shut up, I've only had four Caf-POWs."

He shook his head and sat back down at his desk, looking around in a somewhat mocking awe. "It looks like Santa exploded in here. Is that our case, boss? Did Santa explode?"

"Nope. We don't have a case today," Gibbs said curtly, grabbing a newspaper and his. "Deskwork. I want the files on my desk by sixteen hundred hours."

Without hesitation, all three—technically four—answered him with a resounding, "On it, Boss." Abby added her own, "Yes, Gibbs!" with a salute, relishing in the fact only she would ever be able to do that.

When Gibbs was out of earshot, Tony turned to the Israeli-turned-American and smiled. "What?" she asked, flipping through a file.

"Oh, nothing," he stated, still grinning. "I just, yaknow, was wondering if Liat had said anything about me."

Furrowing her eyebrows, she replied, "No." Under her breath, however, she muttered, "Thank God…"

When Liat and Malachi had left for Israel with Eli, the four had stayed in contact with each other. In Ziva's mind, if her father had been serious about fixing their relationship, she had decided early on that she would make every attempt to help that along. And if that meant making amends with Liat and Malachi, as well, so be it. Either way, regardless of all that happened on the Damocles, Malachi reminded Ziva of someone. She could not then—and still could not—put her finger on exactly who that was…Nonetheless, she had tried her best to be receptive and kind to Liat in all emails she sent.

In Liat's first email back to Ziva, however, she had made it painfully clear that she found Tony alluring during her 'visit,' and had proceeded to ask a variety of questions about him. Four emails later Tony, too, was expressing a mutual interest. Somehow, Ziva began playing go-between. Cupid, in a way.

And for some strange reason, unbeknownst to her, she was bothered by it all. For weeks, Malachi and Ziva would commiserate over the obsession the other two had with each other until, finally, she refused to do any more for either of them. Tony had only smiled and accused Ziva of being jealous, even though she knew it was the farthest thing from her mind. (She was fairly certain that Tony knew it, as well, though she said nothing more on the topic.)

The only relief Ziva had found was when her father had invited her to the Chanukah festivities in Israel. She would stay at her father's house, as the only living matriarch of her family, and preside over the celebration. Cooking would be split among herself, Liat, and Malachi over the ten-day stay. It had seemed like a very generous offer, especially after all that she and Eli had been through. Ziva had agreed instantly, without considering the fact that, as an NCIS Agent, former-Mossad-officer-recently-become-American, she may be required to have 'protection' or at least accompaniment.

So that is her goal for today: figuring out who exactly she wished to spend a fourteen-hour-flight-there, ten days of Chanukah, and sixteen-hours-back with.

As she glanced around the office, she only saw two options: McGee or Tony. While McGee was probably a very nice person to travel with, he seemed as somewhat of a bore, and along with the fact he had once distinctly told her that he hated flying, Ziva was fairly certain she could cross him off the list. That left Tony, and though the thought of bringing him to a family gathering in her homeland was dreadful, she couldn't suppress the butterflies in her stomach.

Letting out a sigh, she decided that she would work now and figure out how to reserve vacation time later.


Bullpen
Friday, November 26, 2010
1400 Hours

"Dum-dah-dum-pum-dah-ditty-dum-pum…" Tony hummed to the tune of The Little Drummer Boy. He had been singing and thrumming Christmas carols all day in quick succession, partly because he saw how it got under Miss Ziva Davíd's skin and he enjoyed it, and partly because he couldn't get them out of his head. Finally, he was able to think of something other than Christmas—although it was difficult, what with being surrounded by fake snow, Christmas lights, and holly—and pulled a case write-up almost entirely out of his ass.

Okay, most of it was out of my ass, but so what, he thought to himself, stapling the sheets together. After sticking them in the case-folder, he stood, walked over to Gibbs' desk and set them on the neat surface. "Guess who's done with their cases? Ooh yeah, that would be me. Very Special Anthony DiNozzo, completely finished." Adding a few 'last words', Tony struts through the bullpen calling, "Finito, fertig, terminado—D-O-N-E, done!"

"Yes, Tony, we get it," Ziva snaps, typing away at her keyboard. "Now, will you shut up so that we may finish?"

"Yeah, I mean, I guess I could…" Tony grins, and then crosses to sit on the edge of her desk. "But why would I wanna do that?"

"Because you want me to spare your life." She cast him a deadly glare, but he was unaffected.

Instead, an even wider smile spread across his face. "Go ahead. Make my day, Ziva." She glanced at him and continued to work, saying nothing more. "So, you never answered me earlier."

"About what?"

"Is that a touch of moodiness I hear, Probie?" Tony teased, playing with a stray curl. She swatted his hand away and he purred. "Mm, someone's a grouchy tiger today."

"First of all," Ziva loudly retorted, "No, I am not grouchy. Second of all, I did answer your question; no, Liat has not said anything more about you to me, nor have I to her. I told you, Tony, I am not going to do this anymore. I have left you both to your own devices. If she has not contacted you, that is not my problem and you should be man enough to accept the fact that maybe, just maybe, a woman does not find you appealing!"

Tony had never really been one to show his emotions around Ziva, especially when it came to their silly banter in the office, but he had to admit that this one stung a bit more than usual. The force of her words left a mark, and he even jumped slightly when she spoke them. He hoped that his face didn't reveal too much of what he felt, but even so, he felt the need to rationalize—to himself—what he was feeling.

Ziva was a constant at NCIS. When Ziva wasn't there, things weren't right. He learned that too late, soon after he killed her boyfriend in self-defense on the floor of her apartment living room. He felt guilty over that more often than not, but she had seemingly gotten over it fast enough, so he usually was able to keep himself from dwelling on it. There was more to his guilt, however, beginning with Gibbs leaving her in Israel and ending with seeing her battered, sitting in front of him, in Somalia. Obviously, his feelings for her were somewhere between friends and more-than-friends, but he knew deep down that they were both keeping it as professional as they could manage.

However, there were days like these when Tony didn't know what to do. Was he supposed to just let her stew in fury about the fact he was—in complete repartee, of course—interested in Mossad's Ziva-Replacement? Or was his duty as her partner more of a personal note? When thinking about Ziva, Tony commonly returned to his old adage that she was a ninja, and while he still agreed, he couldn't help but notice that she had changed over the five years of working with (and then for) NCIS.

Her instincts were quick, but her tongue was quicker—and not just with kissing. A swift monologue could leave him clutching at his heart (figuratively speaking) for the rest of the day. Her words could cut like a knife, but did she know what she did to him? Did she know what just a look at her in the morning, stepping out of the elevator, did to the rest of his day? And then, could she tell that she hurt him?

Regardless of whether she could tell or not, Tony kept his hurt ego to himself. The last thing he needed was to be shot down while he was unarmed.


Bullpen
Friday, November 26, 2010
1600 Hours

"All three case-files, on my desk," Gibbs stated, smiling over his cup of coffee. "Good work. You're free to go."

Ziva took this time to hover around her desk, slowly packing her phone, badge, and keys in the lambskin purse she pulled from under her desk. To any random person walking the corridors of NCIS Headquarters, it would appear as though she were simply preparing for the drive home, but it simply was not that. In fact, it was much more than that.

She was attempting to work up enough courage to tell Gibbs about Chanukah, and found that she was failing miserably. Finally, the older man walked up to her desk and asked her, point-blank, what was on her mind.

Stumbling on the words, she began, "My father invited me to Chanukah…"

"Yeah?" Gibbs said. "And?"

Ziva thought for a moment before saying, "I accepted." He nodded, catching her off guard. "I would need at least twelve days of vacation."

"Take that up with Pamela. She's taking care of vacations right now."

"But you are—"

Gibbs nodded then interrupted, "I know what I am. Check with Pamela. It's alright by me as long as you've got time."

Anyone else would have taken that as a signal to leave. Tony would have said, 'Thanks, Boss, have a good one.' McGee would have said, 'Thanks, Gibbs,' and simply left. But Ziva was rooted to her spot, wringing her fingers.

"Something else on your mind, Davíd?"

She nodded 'yes.' Much is on my mind… "As an NCIS agent, and as I am not sure I have personal security in Israel anymore since I am newly American—"

"Yup. Anyone you got in mind?" Stunned, Ziva opened her mouth to speak but stopped short. Her two options had started for the stairs. If she wanted her prospective travel partner to know about the trip—and to give him a chance to bow out—she would have to act quickly.

"Well, it would most likely have to be someone from this team." Gibbs gestured for her to continue. "Which means either McGee or Tony."

From a distance, Ziva heard the latter bid the former farewell and the door clicked between them. Soon enough, Tony was back at his desk, also collecting his belongings for the evening.

"You could take Muh-Gee," Gibbs suggested. "Good agent, never done anything against your family…" Tony snorted behind him and Ziva couldn't help but give him a small smirk.

She bowed her head and played with a loose string on her purse. "I…was considering it. But, Gibbs, he hates to fly. And, besides which, Abby said he was such a bore in Mexico." A lengthy chain of snorting ensued before Tony let out a rough cackle, and then a cough to cover it. "That leaves…"

"Duh-Nozzo."

The laughter quickly ended and a hasty "Yeah, Boss?" soon followed. Ziva glanced between the two men before explaining the situation to Tony. When she was finished, he blinked several times and nodded. "Sure."

"We leave Dulles at five-twenty-one Monday afternoon." Tony was obviously suppressing a guffaw of shock but Ziva murmured, "Is that a problem?" and swiftly shut him up. "Anyway, the weather will be in the low- to mid-eighties for Chanukah this year, and therefore, pack accordingly."

"Are you sure you wan—"

"I am sure," Ziva stated firmly, looking Tony in the eye. "Oh, and dinner is always dressy-casual." At his quizzical stare, she elaborated that he should pack something at least a little better than usual. "A suit would be overreaching," she added. He nodded and finished gathering things. They walked to the parking lot together when he was ready to leave.

"Why do you want me to go?"

Ziva thought for a moment before saying, "I have not been to my house in a year and a half. I may need someone to have my back, and you are that someone."

"I see," Tony murmured, unlocking his car. "Have a good night, Zeev. See you tomorrow."

"Yes, yes you shall. Good night." Ziva got in her own car, started it, and drove away, trying to ignore the massive weight that had been lifted off of her chest and replaced instead by thousands of butterfly wings pulsing within their cage.

-break-

Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo's Bedroom
His Apartment
Friday, November 26, 2010
2200 Hours

Packing for Israel proved to be more difficult than Tony could have ever imagined, but he eventually got the job done, at least by his standards. One suitcase, a carry-on, and a toiletry bag, all filled to the brim. Of course, Ziva had helped him, if only through electronic means. Picture texts to her had been replied to with a simple 'yes' or 'no', and requests for suggestions met a sturdy 'blue' or 'green'.

She did, however, think that a red pullover sweater would be a horrible idea, and said so in as many words.

When Tony arrived at Headquarters the next morning, he felt like stealing away to Autopsy and catching some shut-eye on one of the tables. Again, they were case-less and therefore stuck with more desk-work. The lack of an investigation did, however, grant him more opportunity to ask Ziva questions about the trip, such as 'What do we eat?'

She had simply rolled her eyes and told him that it would be taken care of.

When confronted with the topic of gifts, however, her eyes got very wide and sparkled, much like a child's.

"Well, Tony," she began, crossing over to him, "Chanukah lasts for eight days. Some families choose to give a small gift each night; others give one large gift at the beginning or end. And then there are a few who choose to focus more on charity."

He nodded once and then winced. "Does that mean I have to buy gifts for everyone? Like, your dad?"

Ziva laughed. "You do not have to, but if you are trying to win him over, I would suggest it. Or, give to charity. Father would respect you for doing so, either way you choose." After a moment of comfortable silence, she added, "I am going shopping for gifts tonight. You are welcome to join me, if you wish."

Tony considered this for what seemed like hours. He could go and ask her for input about gifts for Eli, Ben-Gidon, and Liat (not that he was really too keen on her to begin with, but it would get Ziva going and that was what he strived for most days). But the one downside to going with her is that he wouldn't be able to buy her gifts. So he looked up at her and said, "Oh, no, I see what you're doing. You're trying to figure out what I'm getting you."

"I am doing no such thing. Purchasing Chanukah gifts can be intimidating…I was simply trying to help," Ziva replied, smiling. "If you wish to shop alone, feel free to. Call me if you need any help."

But he knew he wouldn't. He knew exactly what he was going to give her, for each of the eight days. And the best would be the eighth gift, by far.

Tony couldn't resist the excitement growing within him. He had a gut feeling that this vacation would prove to be both informative (about Ziva's background) and interesting.

And who wouldn't love to spend the holidays in beautiful sunshine?


Tel Aviv, Israel
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
1450 Hours

After a nine hour flight on Monday, a three-hour layover in Frankfurt that nearly made them miss the conjoining what-seemed-like-five-hour flight, Tony and Ziva arrived safely in Tel Aviv Yafo airport. Welcomed by a limousine, they were quickly shuttled to her house.

The first thing that Tony noticed was the marked difference between the looming stucco (what seemed like a) mansion and the Mossad 'headquarters'. There were a few trees framing the cast-iron framed windows and a number of upstairs balconies. While there were similarities, he could make out a stark comparison that hit him harder than the obvious physical differences: the emotional difference. There was a looser, more relaxed feeling. It was clear that this was a home, rather than a house.

Even Ziva seemed different here. She was all smiley and full of anticipation, though the flight had taken a toll on her (made apparent by slight puffiness under her eyes and even slighter frizzy bed-head). Tony could tell she was excited to be back, like a child on Christmas morning. He laughed, considering the irony; perhaps he should change the scenario to 'like a child on the first night of Chanukah'.

"Excited?" he murmured, bumping elbows with her gently. She simply beamed at him and nodded, rolling her luggage up to the door as soon as the 'chauffer' hefted it up out of the trunk. "You look it."

Ziva dug a key out of her pocket and, after struggling to balance her carry-on bag against the handle of her suitcase, Tony slung the strap over his shoulder, allowing her to unlock the front door. Although the key worked, and she swung the door open, she rang the doorbell. He assumed this was just to be polite, since he technically wasn't family, nor was he very well accepted by the family.

"Father? We are here," Ziva called into the house, stepping over the threshold and dragging her suitcase behind her. Beckoning Tony to follow, she slipped her shoes off and padded over to the stairs. "Father?"

Eli's white-clad form swept into the room from what appeared to be the kitchen and opened his arms wide to hug his daughter. "Ah, Zee-vah, I have missed you."

"As I have missed you," she mumbled into his shoulder, returning the hug with just as much gusto.

"I see you have brought a friend? Or is this a business call, Mr. DiNozzo?" Eli thrust out a hand and Tony shook it hesitantly, both smiling at the other.

"No, no," Tony murmured, shaking his head, "strictly leisure, Director Davíd."

Throwing his head back with a laugh, the older man cried, "If it is not work-related, call me Eli! It is Chanukah and you are here with my daughter. It is the least I can offer you."

The senior field agent merely said, "Well, Eli, call me Tony."

For hours, the three sat in the living room talking, Ziva with a glass of apricot wine while Tony and Eli sipped on barley malt beer, discussing matters spanning the sands of the desert to the metal used in the Menorah now set on the side-table.

Things grew very interesting when Liat and Malachi arrived, starting with the overstuffed duffel-bag that the former had thrown across her back.

"Liat, hello," Eli greeted, gesturing for her to sit. "And Malachi. Come sit, sit."

Malachi nodded, smiling and extending a girly hand (Tony noticed) toward Ziva, who grasped it gingerly and gave it a soft squeeze. "Ziva," he said, bowing his head and finishing his statement in a slew of Hebrew syllables. She returned them graciously, but not without casting an unhidden glance at Tony. "And Special Agent DiNozzo, of course." Malachi shook Tony's hand as well, almost firmer than necessary. The latter didn't bother asking him to call him 'Tony'.

Liat, on the other hand, tossed her bag aside as though it held mere feathers and was at Tony's side in a flash. "Lovely to see you again. Not another case, I hope?"

"No, no," Tony reassured, peeling his gaze away from Liat's mysterious eyes. "I'm here with Ziva." He didn't miss the disappointment that flickered briefly on her features. Subconsciously, he took a step toward the woman in question, who mirrored the movement instinctively.

Eli took notice of this, and smiled to himself, letting out a low chuckle. "Malachi, I just received a gift of the most wonderful cigars. Join me for one in my study. And you, too, Tony, if you wish?" Tony did, however, decline, remembering the sensitivity of his lungs ever since his tango with numonic plague a little less than six years prior. "Well, they are not for everyone, as they say, yes?"

Tony and Ziva nodded, and then were left alone with Liat, who shortly after the exit of Malachi and Eli went upstairs to unpack.

"So this is your house?" Ziva's senior asked, striding over to the somewhat out-of-place fireplace.

"This is not my house anymore," she murmured, joining him. "I live in America now. But yes, this is where I grew up."

Tony bowed his head and examined a picture that looked older than the others. "Who's this?"

She took one look at the photograph and stated matter-of-factly, "My mother."

"Oh."

They didn't discuss it for the rest of the evening, though they had little time to consider it. Both showered (separately, of course), during which Tony was preoccupied with running through all of the Jewish prayers he'd taught himself over the past year "in case something like this would ever happen" in his head. Ziva was too exhilarated by being 'home' again (along with being in charge of the blessings for dinner) to think of the awkward silence that had consumed the space between them.

Over dessert and coffee and wine, Tony noticed that Ziva appeared to be tired and decided to ask about something he had forgotten to discuss with her earlier. "So, Eli, what are the sleeping arrangements tonight? I should have asked earlier, but it totally slipped my mind."

The man looked between the two NCIS agents several times before shrugging and saying, "I should have thought about it more…Unfortunately, I will not have access to the guest room for the third day of Chanukah. Ziva's Aunt Lucy and Uncle Avraham are arriving tonight, and staying until late Friday evening." The breath caught in Tony's throat, preventing any response. "I hope this will not be a problem…"

Ziva shook her head and quickly spoke up. "No, Father. We will work it out."

Thankfully, no one saw Tony's hand graze Ziva's, but everyone felt the change in energy pulsing through the room.


The Davíd House, Ziva's Bedroom
2300 Hours
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"So, how exactly is this going to work?" Tony had finally worked up enough courage to ask, and enough common sense to know what not to ask. Which was, naturally, 'Who's getting the bed, and who's getting the couch, and what are we going to tell Abby and McGee?' No more rendezvous like Paris. Or at least none that would be leaked throughout NCIS Headquarters.

Ziva thought for a moment before blatantly saying, "I will take the chaise lounge, and you can have the bed."

"No," Tony refused. "It's your room, and your house. You should sleep in your bed." What he wanted to say would only set her off, and that was, 'But I can sleep there, too. I wouldn't have problems with that.' He refrained.

An eyebrow lifted on her forehead, creasing the skin slightly. "Your back is horrible."

"Pardon?"

"Sleeping on the couch will only hurt your back. Same goes for the floor."

Tony took the opportunity that rose at that moment to sit on the bed next to her. "We're both adults. Why not just sleep together?" He hoped that the last sentence didn't sound too suggestive, because that was the last thing on his mind.

"We are both adults," Ziva agreed, and then added an ever open-ended 'but' to the end.

"But…?"

"But, Tony, my bed was made for a single teenager. Not two adults." A small pout pulled the corner of her mouth down and it took every ounce of Tony's emotional strength to not swoop down and kiss her good night. Why he was having these feelings for her—again—was beyond him, but he was determined not to fall prey to them.

After she opened each Chanukah gift, however, she might not be able to resist. And that was perfectly fine with him.

So he sat on the chaise lounge and pulled off a sock.


A/N: Mm. One chapter down, yada yada.
Note: I have only responded to one review on the latest chapter of Handle With Care. This is for two reasons; one, my computer won't let me ... and two, I'm giving a lengthy explanation next chapter. A teaser? Everyone has their own belief systems, preferences, etc. Everyone starts at the bottom eventually. This includes Ziva and Tony. (/teaser)

Disclaimer: I don't own Tony's sock.