We're gonna start by
Drinkin' on cheap bottles of wine
Sit talkin' up all night
Saying things we haven't for awhile
Smiling but we're close to tears
Even after all these years
Just now got the feeling that we're meeting
For the first time

Scene Twenty — For the First Time

No one was really surprised when Ziva and Tony walked into the office together on Monday morning, both looking happier than anyone had seen them in a long time. They stopped as they nearly ran into Gibbs, who was on his way out of the bullpen as they were on their way in. He looked between the two of them, taking in the radiant, lightened looks. And he just shook his head.

"Remember what I said, DiNozzo."

He'd said a lot of things, Tony reflected dumbly. "Boss…?"

He looked at Ziva, then back at Tony, jerking a finger at the former. "Break her heart, I break your neck."

And with that he pushed past the two of them, leaving a rather frightened senior agent and bemused probationary agent in his wake. McGee was trying not to laugh as he pretended he hadn't noticed one word of the exchange.

It was a slow day of paperwork. At one point Abby came up under the pretense of discussing some computer thing with McGee, but she spent the entire time staring expectantly at Tony and Ziva. "Oh come on!" She said after nearly twenty minutes. "Do something couple-like already!"

The two exchanged bewildered glances, McGee shook his head, and of course Gibbs chose that exact moment to walk into the bullpen. "Couple-like, Abby?" He questioned with a raised eyebrow. "What do ya want, for DiNozzo to throw Ziva down on the desk and start makin' out with her?"

Tony's eyes lit up at the thought, and Ziva crumpled up a piece of paper, throwing it at his head. Abby slipped out of the bullpen as soon as Gibbs had turned his back.

It was a good, quiet day.

Which was why Tony was so bewildered by how silent and serious Ziva was for the duration of the ride back to her apartment. "Penny for your thoughts," he finally said as they pulled up in front of her building. She turned to look at him, a look of confusion in place.


Tony sighed as he turned the car off, twisting the key out of the ignition and turning to face Ziva fully. "You've been way too quiet, which I would understand if something awful had happened, but all and all, I thought today was fairly good. So spill, David. What's going on in that pretty head of yours?"

Ziva almost smiled as she looked around. "Do you really want to have this conversation in the car?"

"…Fair enough," Tony ceded before opening his door. Some conversations just weren't meant to be had in cars, after all.

He had to be patient, of course. They got upstairs, Ziva disappeared into the bathroom to take a shower, and Tony set to work with ordering take out for supper; he had a feeling Ziva wasn't going to be in the mood to cook, and if it involved something more complicated than a microwave, Tony couldn't really handle it.

Ziva emerged from the shower as Tony was tipping the delivery boy; her hair was hanging loose and damp around her shoulders, and she was wearing a pair of sweatpants and a long-sleeve zipper-up pulled on over a camisole. She smiled a bit when she saw the take-out boxes.


It really was nice, Ziva reflected as they sat down to eat. Having Tony around her twenty-four/seven was surprisingly not as annoying as Ziva would have once believed it would be. Yes, he talked too much, and yes he made annoyingly incessant movie references that she could have lived without. But after a month of thinking she would never hear any of it ever again, she could certainly live with it.

"So," Tony said casually as he jabbed his chopsticks in Ziva's direction. "You wanna talk about it, or am I gonna have to charm it out of ya with my dastardly good looks and charismatic smile?"

Ziva raised an eyebrow at him, biting back a smile. "Did that sound any better in your head than it did out-loud?"

"Only a little. Barely. Don't change the subject." Tony set his chopsticks down, giving Ziva his full attention. "Why were you so upset when we left work today?"

Ziva sighed as she set down her chopsticks as well. It was just as good; she really wasn't that hungry. "I was not upset," she said after a moment, earning herself a disbelieving look. "Really, I was not, it is just…this weekend was good. Better than any weekend I have had in a while. And I just…do not want it to end."

"What makes you think it's going to end?" Was Tony's immediate question.

"Things are…starting to go back to normal, finally. You are…not dead, I am back on the field; the nightmares seem to be…lessening, at least. And normal is…you not spending every night in my apartment."

She was surprised when Tony actually smiled. "Who says normal has to be the old normal?" A bewildering question if Ziva had ever heard one. "I say we make a new kind of normal. Because I kind of like the way we've been for the last couple of days. I dunno about you, but I kind of really like living with you. A lot. I wouldn't mind a repeat of this last weekend every weekend for…you know, however long we live."

A small, amused smile pulled at Ziva's lips. It was funny, listening to the commitment-phobic talk about things like forever and the rest of our lives. But they were phrases he'd used a lot in the last couple of days. She supposed she should take it as a sign of just how committed he really was to all of this.

Tony's own grin widened as he stood up, reaching a hand out to Ziva. She placed her palm against his, allowing her fingers to curl around her hand and pull her up, looping one arm around her waist and leaning in, pressing a light kiss to her lips. He'd barely pulled away when Ziva quickly moved to close the space between them once more, initiating a deeper, far more intimate kiss that lasted much longer. Tony's head was spinning when they finally pulled apart.

"Well…that was…"

"Nice?" Ziva prompted with a sly smile. Tony grinned.

"Better than nice. Much, much better."

Ziva was still smiling as she closed her eyes, resting her head against Tony's shoulder and pulling in a deep breath. Breathing in his scent. "I love you," she murmured after a moment. It was amazing how natural the words felt.

Tony wrapped his other arm around Ziva, holding her tightly and burying his face in her hair.

"I love you too."

Ziva had been in Gibbs' basement more than her fair share of times in the last couple of months. Tony had been there enough times since he'd returned.

It was definitely a surprise when both of them came down the basement stairs though.

Gibbs looked up from his boat, smiling faintly. "Looks like I'm being tag-teamed." Serious looks greeted his statement. "Oh boy." He sighed as he set his sandpaper aside, giving Ziva a once over. "Way too early in the relationship for you to know you're pregnant, so that can't be why you're here. What's up?"

"Well…" Tony rocked back on his heels, his hands clasped tightly behind his back. "We…I mean, um…Ziva-has-something-she-wants-to-tell-you."

And with that he turned to dart back upstairs. "No way." Ziva grabbed his arm, dragging him back and holding him firmly at her side. "You are not putting this off on me; it was your idea—"

"Hey, no one told you to agree!"

"Someone wanna let me in on the idea?" Gibbs said loudly, suppressing a smile when Tony and Ziva moved as one to turn back to him.

"All right," Tony sighed, running a hand through his hair. "We uh…we would like to…"

"To move in together," Ziva finally completed the statement when Tony refused to. Gibbs raised an eyebrow, looking between the two of them. It seemed incredibly impossible that she was the same wild, unpredictable Mossad officer that had walked into his bullpen five years ago, impossible that he was the same playboy agent he'd taken under his wing years earlier, eager but crazy, reliable in one way but completely undependable in another.

There was no way these were the same two people.

"I was under the impression you two were already living together," he said as he picked up his sandpaper and returned to his work. "I've been waiting for the change of address form for weeks. So who's going where?"

Tony and Ziva exchanged surprised yet pleased looks. "Well…Tony's apartment is bigger, and I do not own as much stuff…"

As Ziva spoke, Tony wound his arms around her waist from behind, holding her loosely. It was casual, but Gibbs could sense a certain air of possession. He could tell the younger man was enjoying this.

And clearly Ziva was as well; she hadn't pushed his arms away yet.

Ziva and Abby jumped as a loud crash, followed by a string of swears, echoed through the apartment. "Hey, language!" Abby called with a laugh as she and Ziva slipped out of the bedroom, heading into the living room.

"Seriously McGee, be freakin' careful, I think she loves this thing more than she loves me…"

"That's not hard," was all McGee could manage to huff as he and Tony carefully eased Ziva's coffee table through the front door. She'd had no problem with sacrificing most of her furniture; it had all been hand-me-downs she had acquired upon her return from Somalia.

But the coffee table was special. She wasn't getting rid of that.

"Don't drop it," Tony warned McGee as they finally managed to get the table into the living room. "I really think if we break this she'll dump me."

"It is a distinct possibility," Ziva admitted with a smile. They set the coffee table down, and McGee collapsed onto the couch, gasping for air.

"Come on Probie, she's got a bookcase too."

"You're not paying me enough for this," McGee groaned as he dragged himself up, following Tony back out into the hall.

"Think we should help them?" Abby asked, cocking her head as she watched the men walk. Ziva thought about it for a moment.

"Well…we are trying to unpack the boxes. That is a big job in itself; it requires a lot of attention."

"Good point Ziva. Good point."

They laughed as they went back to the unpacking. The task was interrupted when there was another crash, and this time McGee was the one swearing.

"Wow, I didn't know Timmy knew those words," Abby said thoughtfully, biting her lip to keep from cracking up.

"Tony is a bad influence."

"Are you two really just gonna sit there all day and laugh at us?" Tony called around McGee, who was still swearing his head off.

"Come on McGee, there are little kids on this floor somewhere, they don't need you tainting their innocent ears."

In a whirlwind of crushed toes and swears, Tony and McGee finally managed to work the bookshelf into the apartment. "Seriously Ziva, you are the only person I know who still has bookcases. Join the rest of us in the twenty-first century, wouldcha?"

"Gibbs has bookcases."

"I rest my case."

It was a relief when they'd finished moving the biggest things, leaving them with just the boxes of clothes and books — the latter of which far outnumbered the former.

"I think she owns as many books as you do DVDs and video tapes."

"Without a doubt, Probie. Without a doubt."

Abby's laugh, mixed with the low tenor of Ziva's own chuckle, echoed through the apartment, and Tony closed his eyes for a moment, just savoring it. "You know I really never thought she'd be this happy again," McGee said as he maneuvered a bookcase into a corner. "After the uh…the funeral—" Tony flinched a bit, as did McGee, "After what happened, I really never thought she'd be able to find it in herself to be happy."

"McGee—" This wasn't really something Tony wanted to hear. It had been two months; Ziva was finally starting to really move on. Tony really didn't want the reminder.

"I know, I know. I'm just saying. After everything that's happened…I'm glad she was able to come back from it all."

Another round of laughter, and Tony smiled.

"Yeah. So am I."

A shuddering gasp tore through Ziva's entire body as her eyes flew open, her breath escaping in shallow huffs. She struggled to disentangle herself from the death grip her still-sleeping boyfriend had her in, not wanting to disturb him with the panic attack she could tell was coming. Disconnected images flashed past her eyes as she forced herself to trip into the bathroom. She managed to get the door closed before she slid down against the smooth wood, closing her eyes and reminding herself to breathe evenly, not to gulp the air in, that would just make it worse…

The sound of knuckles rapping lightly against wood startled Ziva a bit and she stumbled up, yanking the door open and revealing a very concerned Tony standing on the other side. They stared at each other for a long time before Ziva sighed, dropping her eyes to the floor.

"Sorry," she whispered, her voice cracking slightly. Tony sighed as he stepped forward, winding his arms around her small, shaking body and hugging her tightly.

"Don't ever be sorry," he murmured in her ear as he held her, one hand tangling in her hair. "You know damn well you don't have anything to be sorry for."

She shuddered again, burying her face in his shoulder. "What'd you dream about?" Tony asked after a moment, tightening his grip a little when a choked sob tried to force its way past Ziva's lips. "Zi…"

She shook her head as she pulled away, scrubbing her eyes hurriedly. "Nothing, nothing…you should go back to bed—"

"Ziva—" Her breath caught in her throat, and Tony cut himself off hurriedly, cursing. He really hated pushing her — and it hadn't been necessary for so long — but he didn't want her to think it was okay for her to start locking up inside herself again. "Come on," he finally sighed, looping an arm around her shoulder and gently steering her back towards the bed. She lowered herself onto the bed, curling up into a tight ball under the covers, and Tony walked around to the other side, crawling under the blankets and wrapping his arms around Ziva's stiff form.

It didn't take long for Ziva to give in. "It was the shooting again," she murmured after a moment, her voice shaking a little. "All I could hear was you saying 'you can't get rid of me that easily anyways.'" Tony winced; such a stupid thing to say, in retrospect. "Those words haunted me after…after. It still hurts to hear it now."

God. He really was an idiot. "I'm sorry," he murmured, burying his face in her hair and pressing his lips against the top of her head. "I didn't know…"

But Ziva shook her head. "You do not have anything to be sorry for," she informed him, echoing his own words back, and he chuckled dryly.

Suddenly Ziva uncurled from her tight position, rolling over so she was facing Tony. Before he could question her, she closed the space between them, pressing her lips against his and kissing him slowly. Tony reacted without really thinking, melding his lips with hers. He was surprised when her lips parted, her tongue slipping out, running along his lips, begging for entrance. Tony allowed her in, again without much thought.

Suddenly she pulled away, a tight smile pulling at her lips again. "Is that your knee again?" She asked with a small smile, and god help Tony he couldn't find it in himself to answer. Luckily he didn't have to worry about it as she was kissing him again, a bit more passionately this time, then she forced him to roll on his back so she could roll on top of him, and even as she continued to kiss him her hands wandered downward, one set of fingers sliding slowly over his thighs, the other set fingering the drawstring of his sweatpants.

Oh man, Tony groaned silently. He fought the urge to grab the hem of her shirt, yank it off, choosing instead to take the more responsible route and pull away. "Ziva—"

She was giving him a look that he recognized far too well, a look he had received a lot when she'd first arrived at NCIS, when she'd thought seducing Tony was the only way to get him to do anything for her.

Despite how sexy it was, how turned on he'd been at that time, Tony really hated that look now.

"Something wrong?" She whispered, her voice low and throaty. She didn't give him a chance to answer, instead pressing her lips against his again. Tony forced himself to pull away once more, well aware that his self-control was waning quickly.

"Not now, Zi. Not tonight."

She wasn't put off, at least. Probably confused, but she didn't show it. "Because tonight is just so different from tomorrow night, yes?"

"Yes, actually." God she made it hard to focus when she looked at him like that. "Because tomorrow night, hopefully before we do this, you won't have had a panic attack five minutes before because you dreamed I was dead."

"That does not have anything to do with it," Ziva argued, sounding frustrated now. Tony sighed as he found her hands, moving them so they were above his waist.

"Yeah, it does. You're upset, you're emotional—"

"Perhaps I just want to have sex, did you ever think of that?"

Tony half-smiled as he wrapped his arms around her waist, rolling so they were lying side by side on the bed and keeping his arms around her. "I can tell you want to have sex," he informed her. "I just don't think it's a good idea. Not tonight."

"Since when do you think sex is not a good idea?"

He gave her another small smile as he leaned in, kissing her lightly and pulling away before she could try and go anywhere with it. "Since right now. You know I love you and you know I want you. But I don't want it to happen like this, when you're emotional, when you're not thinking clearly. The first time we make love, it's not going to be because you just dreamed I was dead and you want to prove to yourself that I'm alive. It's going to be because you just want me."

Ziva stared at him for a long time, the anger, the tension draining slowly from her features. Finally her body relaxed, and she sighed, closing her eyes and scooting in so there was no space left between them. And Tony buried his face in her hair, holding her tightly.

"I love you," he murmured. "You know that, right?"

She nodded, suddenly looking too tired to even form words. But she still managed to say, "I love you too."

The first time they made love it was slow and sensual, and entirely because they wanted to. And neither of them ever forgot.

Abby and Ziva exchanged sad, slightly disgusted looks before looking at their other halves. McGee was having a hard time sitting up straight, and Tony was looking at the girls with wide, abnormally bright eyes.

"Hey Mc…Mc…Person, look, Abby 'n' Ziva are here!"

"Can't leave you two alone for even a minute," Abby sighed as she helped McGee off the barstool, pulling his arm over her shoulder and supporting his weight. McGee forced his blurry, unfocused eyes to look at Abby.


"Yes Timmy, it's Abby." She half-laughed at this, shooting Ziva an amused look. "Want help getting Tony home?"

"No, you are going to have your hands full with McGee. I will take care of Tony."

"Good luck," Abby laughed as she started steering McGee towards the door. Ziva shook her head, looking back at her inebriated boyfriend.

"Okay Tony, time to go."

"Whyyyyy?" Tony whined unhappily as Ziva dragged him off his barstool.

"Because the bartender is sick of you." Tony laughed as he fell against Ziva; she barely managed to catch him and herself before her knees went out. "Whoops. Sorry Zee-vah."

"No problem," she sighed as she started towards the door. Tony stumbled a bit, nearly knocking Ziva over.

"You and McGee are never having a 'boy's night out' again," she informed him, a bit irritated.

"Aaawww, but I like my Timmy time."

Ziva sighed, resisting the urge to smile. "Tony should I be worried that you are cheating on me with McGee?"

"No." He sounded offended by this. "I like Timmy but I love you. There's a difference."

And Ziva laughed. "Do not worry Tony, I was just kidding. I know you would never cheat on me."

"Good. I love you."

"I love you too."

She shoved him into the car, shaking her head as she closed the door and walked around to the driver's side. "Hey, hey, you can't drive," Tony protested when he saw Ziva climbing into the driver's seat. "You, you're dangerous when you drive."

"I promise you will not be much better right now," Ziva informed him as she started the car. "Sit back and close your eyes, we will be home before you know it."

Tony made an unhappy noise in the back of his throat as he did as he was told. Ziva managed to get them home in one piece, and then it was just a matter of dragging Tony up eight flights of stairs — because of course the elevator would choose tonight to be out.

"Where we goin'?" Tony asked blearily as he looked around.

"We are going to our apartment, Tony. And then you are going to bed."

"But I don't wanna go to bed."

"Well luckily for me I do not care about what you want."

It took almost twenty minutes to get Tony into the apartment. He spent most of it babbling incoherently about McGee and bar peanuts — Ziva didn't ask for clarification on that. "Bed!" He laughed when Ziva dragged him into their bedroom and proceeded to flop down on the bed, bouncing up and down.

"Do not jump on the bed, Tony," she scolded him lightly, and he pouted.

"You're a mean mommy."

"I am your girlfriend, not your mommy." She grabbed his t-shirt and sweatpants off the bureau and threw them at him. "Get changed."

"Dress me?"

Ziva sighed, rolling her eyes and walking over to him. "Only because you are drunk," she informed him seriously as she slipped his suit jacket off and beginning to unbutton his dress shirt. She was distracted for a moment when he suddenly pushed himself up, pressing his lips against hers. She pulled away at once, her face twisting into a disgusted look.

"Aw, you don't wanna kiss me?"

"All I can taste is alcohol, it is disgusting. And you are drunk. We are not doing anything tonight."


She smiled as she slipped his dress shirt off and grabbed his t-shirt, pulling it on over his head. "You are doing the pants yourself," she said as she stepped away from him, amused by his ruffled hair and bright eyes. She couldn't be mad that he was drunk as all hell; he was too cute.

"Oh all right." He sighed as he started to stand, and Ziva turned to leave; she wasn't really surprised when he grabbed her wrist, holding her back. "Hey Zee-vah?"

"Yes Tony?"

"Will you marry me?"

Ziva smiled, a bit sadly, as she turned back to look at Tony, shaking her wrist out of his grip. "Ask me when you are sober," was all she said before she walked out. She went into the kitchen, grabbing a glass from the cabinet and filling it with water. She was surprised, when she turned around, to see Tony standing in the kitchen door, his face completely serious. He held up a small velvet box.

"I'm sober."

Abby was waiting to pounce on Ziva the next morning. "Did he getcha, did he getcha?" She asked eagerly, cornering Ziva as she started to sit down. Ziva shot her a bewildered look.

"Wait…you knew?"

"Of course! You didn't really think Tim would go out and get drunk with Tony, did you?" Abby asked incredulously. "Honestly Ziva, you should know better." Ziva shifted her eyes to McGee who grinned, then looked at Tony, who was clearly trying not to laugh. "So let's see!"

Ziva was still trying to process all of this as she hooked a finger around the chain of her Star of David, pulling it up for Abby to see the addition to the necklace. "Oh wow, it's beautiful," she breathed, a grin pulling at her lips.

"You have not seen it before?"

"Nope. Tony was determined that you would be the first one to see it. Kind of romantic actually…"

"Not necessarily a smart move on DiNozzo's part, but at least he got it right on the first try," Gibbs said as he walked into the bullpen. One look at him told Ziva that he had known about all this ahead of time as well. "First time for everything, I suppose."

"You sayin' I screw up a lot, boss?" Gibbs just stared at Tony, who grinned sheepishly. "Point taken."

Gibbs rolled his eyes before turning back to Ziva, who was now listening to Abby's endless monologue about everything they had to do before the wedding.

"You did pick a date, right?" She said suddenly, cutting herself off.

"Abby he just proposed last night, we have not thought much about—"

"But you have to have a date!" Abby protested at once, jumping off the edge of Ziva's desk. "That's the most important part, that's how you decide what kind of dress you get, what color, whether it's an indoor or outdoor wedding—"

"Eloping is starting to sound better and better," Tony sighed, running a hand through his hair and chuckling. Ziva, of course, heard his comment; she peaked around Abby, who was bouncing excitedly, shooting Tony a smile and winking.

"And of course you're going to have to figure out who your maid of honor is—"

"You mean you have not already claimed the position for yourself?" Ziva asked, genuinely shocked. Abby stopped mid-bounce, her mouth falling open as she turned to look at Ziva.

"R-R-Really?" She stuttered after a moment, and Ziva nodded. After a moment Abby's lips split into a wide grin. "Ohmygod, yes!" She shrieked, throwing herself at Ziva and wrapping her arms tightly around the woman's neck, hugging her with all strength. Tony could actually see Ziva starting to turn blue.

"Uh…Abby? Might wanna let her breathe or she's not gonna live to see the wedding day."

"Oh, right!" Abby squeaked as she pulled away from Ziva, resuming her bouncing. Ziva just shook her head, smiling. Sometimes, Abby was too easy to please.

Gibbs looked up from his sanding, surprised that the set of light footsteps descending down the stairs were alone. It was very rare to see Ziva without Tony anymore, or vice-versa.

She stood at the edge of the stairs, mahogany eyes meeting blue. After a moment Gibbs held out a piece of sandpaper, and Ziva smiled as she moved further into the basement, taking the paper and setting to work.

They sanded in silence for a few, neither thinking about the last time they had done this together. That was the past; a darker time. It didn't need to be revisited.

"I talked to my father today."

Gibbs blinked, surprise managing to make itself known in his expression. "Oh yeah? How'd that go?"

"Well, he is…not too happy about my choice for a future husband."

"Did you expect him to be?" Ziva shook her head in time with the movement of her hand up and down the beam of the boat. "So I'm guessing he won't be making an appearance for the wedding." Another headshake. "Hmn. Well it's probably for the best. Bad things seem to happen when he comes into the picture."

"You have noticed that too?" Gibbs chuckled dryly. "I did not expect him to come. And it is probably better that he does not, he is…not Tony's biggest fan." Because why would Eli David care at all for the man that was almost solely responsible for saving his daughter from certain death? "It does not bother me much, even if I ever did imagine I was going to get married someday, I was never foolish enough to believe he would be there to see it."

"His loss." Gibbs, of course, would have given anything to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle, see her be married. It pissed him off to no end that Eli was missing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because he didn't like who his daughter was marrying. Not that his anger was doing Ziva any good.

"Still, this leaves me with a…a problem, of sorts." Gibbs stopped sanding now, turning to look at Ziva, who had stopped sanding as well; she was just staring at the boat now. "It would be…nice to have someone walk me down the aisle. As I said before, I never expected that my father would be there to do it. But now…now I have someone who is better than my father." She turned her head a bit to look at Gibbs out of the corner of her eye, a small, sad smile pulling at her lips. "I know I am not Kelly, but perhaps…if you were willing…"

Her voice drifted off as Gibbs stepped forward, wrapping his arms around her petite form and hugging her tightly.

"You are my daughter, Ziver," he whispered in her ear. "And I would be honored to walk you down the aisle."

Ziva pulled in a deep breath, resting her head against his shoulder and raising her arms to return the hug, a soft smile gracing her lips.

McGee was surprised, when he stepped off the elevator, to see Tony sitting in the bullpen, alone. Ziva had definitely been there when McGee had gone down to Abby's lab an hour earlier.

"Where's your other half?" He asked as he walked into the bullpen. Tony was currently leaning back in his chair, hands behind his head, staring at the ceiling.

"She said she had something she needed to do. Right before she left she was on the phone with her father, so I'm guessing she's at Gibbs' now." McGee winced.

"Oh boy. How'd it go with her father?"

Tony shrugged. "Well most of the conversation was in Hebrew. But I was sitting here and she was sitting at her desk and I could hear his voice clear as day, so I'm guessing it didn't go too well. He doesn't like me."

No surprise there. "Well…screw him. I doubt Ziva wanted him to come anyways."

Tony wasn't too sure about that. The pained, disappointed look that had been evident in Ziva's expression when she'd hung up after the disastrous conversation certainly seemed to say otherwise.

"He causes too much trouble when he's around anyways. Probably better he isn't there; the entire venue would probably be blown up."

It was a pretty tasteless joke. Tony was lucky Ziva wasn't there to hear it. His phone buzzed before McGee could respond, and he grabbed it quickly, flipping it open to find a text waiting for him.

Heading home. Do you want me to get something for supper?

Tony considered this for a moment before typing out a response. You know what, I'm leaving the office now, how about I make pasta? All the take-out is starting to make me fat.

He'd just thrown his backpack over his shoulder when he received a response. Sure, blame the take-out.

He laughed. Smartass. See ya soon.

"Oh!" He snapped his fingers right as he stepped out of the bullpen, turning quickly on his heel to look back at McGee, who was just sitting down at his computer. "Before I forget, Abby the Wedding Planner is all over me to pick a best man. You interested?"

McGee's head snapped up, surprise clear in his eyes. "What, me? Be your best man?"

Tony shrugged. "Yeah, I mean, it's not that big a deal, just write a cheesy speech, I'm not really feelin' a bachelor party—" McGee raised a disbelieving eyebrow. "Oh don't give me that look. You wanna be my best man or not?"

McGee smirked a bit. "Sure, Tony. I'd love to be your best man."

"Great. See ya tomorrow."

And Tony left, leaving a rather shocked McGee in his wake.

Ziva was standing in the kitchen, making tea, when Tony slipped into the apartment. He smiled as he crossed the linoleum floor to stand behind her, looping his arms around her waist and resting his chin on her shoulder.

"You all right?"

Ziva sighed as she turned to press her lips to Tony's cheek. "I'm fine," she promised, and Tony couldn't see any hint of a lie in her eyes.

"Where'd you disappear to when you left the office?"

"I went to talk to Gibbs." Of course. "I thought I would give my father a chance, but I never really expected him to come. And honestly, I would rather have Gibbs walk me down the aisle anyways."

"Just as good, I think we can all do without our daily dose of Mossad for the year." Ziva laughed, resting her head against Tony's.

"So did you talk to McGee yet?"

"Yes I talked to McBest Man." Ziva rolled her eyes.

"Not one of your better nicknames."

"Give me time, I'll think of something." Tony laughed as he pulled away from Ziva at last and went to get a pan, remembering his promise to make tonight a pasta night. "Oh, and by the way, yes, it's the take-out that's making me fat."

"Right. It has nothing to do with the fact that your exercise routine is, shall we say, less than adequate," Ziva smiled as she poked Tony in the side, and he jumped.

"Okay, just because I don't get up at four freakin' a.m. every day to run twenty miles—"

"You do not run at all."

"Yeah, whatever. I still maintain it's the take-out's fault that I'm getting fat."

"Whatever you say, Tony. Whatever you say."

The sun was bright and warm as it beat down on Leroy Jethro Gibbs' backyard. Ziva had insisted she wanted the wedding to be small, simple. Friends and family (the two were interchangeable, really) in a small, enclosed setting. Gibbs had been more than happy to volunteer his backyard for the occasion, had even gotten Ducky to help him clean up, plant some flowers, make the place look nice.

Now a large arc stood at the far end of the backyard, Tony standing under it with a priest and rabbi in front of him. A piano was tucked away in one corner of the yard, his and Ziva's elderly neighbor (who had come to love her younger, erratic neighbors like children) was parked in front of it preparing to play.

Tony took a deep breath as the music started.

Down the aisle first came little Amira Franks, holding a flower basket and looking more than adorable in her tiny white dress while her mother sat in the audience. Also in the audience, after a lot of grumbling on Tony's part, was DiNozzo Sr. He was family, Ziva had said. He deserved to see his only son's wedding.

After Amira came Ducky and Ziva's Aunt Nettie (who had been more than happy to fly in from Israel), arm in arm. Tony could see a potential couple there. After them came McGee and Abby, the latter of whom had to be restrained to keep from bouncing down the aisle. Tony bit his lip to keep from laughing. Only Abby.

And then it was Ziva's turn.

Tony's breath caught in his throat when he saw her. They hadn't adhered to the usual wedding rules, refusing to spend twenty-four hours apart before the ceremony. So Abby had come by the apartment at four that morning and kidnapped Ziva, saying they could see each other at the wedding.

Now it was just after one p.m. And in the nine hours that had passed since they'd last seen each other, Ziva had somehow become more beautiful, something Tony hadn't known was possible.

Her hair was hanging in loose, soft ringlets around her slim face, falling past her shoulders. Her dress, which Tony hadn't seen before now, of course, was beautiful, but simple. Just like her.

It was perfect.

The sight of Tony, standing at the end of the aisle, grinning like a kid on Christmas morning, sent the air whooshing from Ziva's lungs, and for a moment she couldn't breathe.

Then Gibbs looped his arm through hers, leaned in and kissed her on the cheek, stopping long enough as he straightened up to whisper, "You look beautiful," before they started down the aisle.

When asked later, neither Tony nor Ziva would be able to recall most of the ceremony. They would remember the vows they had written for one another, would remember promising each other forever. Because really, that was all that mattered.

And Ziva, though she'd never tell anyone (besides Tony, of course) would remember looking to the edge of the yard for just moment, right before Tony said "I do," and seeing her father's face in the shadows. But when she looked back again, he was gone.

Ziva sighed as she slid down to sit next to Tony, who was leaning against the bathtub, his knees drawn up to his chest. He wrapped his arm around Ziva's shoulder, drawing her in to his side and holding her tightly.

"How long does it take?"

"Three minutes."

They breathed deeply in unison, exchanging slightly panicked looks. "Well…" Tony said after a moment, "there are worse ways to start a marriage, right?"

Ziva laughed weakly, resting her head against her husband's shoulder.

Husband. He was her husband. Somehow, the thought still made her feel giddy.

"Do you…want children?" She asked after a moment, hesitant. It wasn't something they had talked about extensively; it had only been a couple of months, after all.

"Well I'm not gonna pretend I'm ready to play Daddy," Tony admitted. "But it's you, and it's us, and what the hell, right? We'll make beautiful babies." Ziva laughed again, closing her eyes. "What about you? Ready for a little DiNozzo to be running around?"

"I can barely handle the DiNozzo I have now." Ouch. Tony chuckled. Ziva smiled as she wrapped her arms loosely around her knees.

"You know," Tony said suddenly, "last year at this time we were sitting across from one another in the bullpen and you were threatening me with a paper clip." Ziva didn't answer, unsure of where he was going with this. "How did we get here?"

"We had unprotected sex."

There was a moment of silence, and then they both burst out laughing. They were avoiding the obvious answer; they were here because Tony had died, and Ziva had fallen apart.

But what had come of it was something more beautiful than words could ever describe.

"I love you. You know that, right?" Tony murmured, pressing a kiss to the top of Ziva's head. She smiled softly, sighing.

"Well after all this I certainly hope you love me."

"Smartass," Tony snorted, kissing her again. "I'm trying to be serious here. I love you, and no matter what happens, you know I'll never leave you, right?"

The conversation had just gotten very serious very fast. It was unnerving. "Tony—"

"Just say yes and kiss me." Ziva rolled her eyes, smiling a bit.

"Yes." She tilted her head up and pressed her lips against his. "Happy?"

"When I'm with you? Always."

"Sap," Ziva snorted, grabbing Tony's wrist and twisting it around. "It has been three minutes. Actually it has been seven." She closed her eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath before opening her eyes again. "Are you ready?"

Tony stood up slowly, stretching his arms over his head before reaching a hand out to Ziva. "Ready when you are, babe."

Ziva smiled as she took his hand, allowing him to pull her up. They exchanged weak smiles before turning to the small white stick sitting on the counter.

Their future.

Tony grabbed the box as Ziva picked up the stick, taking in the results. "Two pink lines," she told Tony, and he scanned the box quickly.

"Two pink lines…" A large grin unfurled over his lips. "Pregnant."

Green eyes met brown, and the box and pregnancy test were both quickly abandoned in favor of a long, deep, passionate kiss. "I love you," Ziva murmured when they pulled apart to breathe, her lips moving against his. Tony's grin widened — something he hadn't known was possible. "I love you so much, Tony."

"I love you too, Ziva. Always."

It was impossible to believe, as they stood there now, kissing and basking in the exciting yet frightening revelation they were going to be parents, that just a year ago they had been nothing but partners, friends on their good days. Hard to believe that nine months ago Tony had put himself in front of an oncoming bullet, effectively setting off a devastating chain of events that couldn't have possibly led to a happy ending.

But now here they were. Alive. Happy. Married. Expecting a child.


Author's Note:…Wow. So everyone got their happy ending, which I was always planning on. I didn't realize it would be quite so sappy though…heh. Oh well. In the original version of this chapter Mike Franks also made a cameo at the wedding — I wrote this before Swan Song. I decided, in light of recent events, that I'd take him out, but I felt like he still needed to be mentioned. RIP Mike =(

ForeverSam's Sappy Corner: This is the part where I thank everyone, from the bottom of my heart, for the constant support and reviews. You guys were all amazing! I wasn't sure about this story from the very beginning — how people would react to the idea, if people would be okay with the absolute OOC-ness (no matter how necessary), and so on and so forth. I'm sure you all remember my worries. But everyone really seemed to like this, and the reviews have really kept me going. So thank you so, so, so, so, sooo much for all the support! I couldn't have done this without all of you! =D

As for what's next…well, I've still got Somewhere A Clock Is Ticking (which you should totally check out if you haven't yet *shameless plug*). I decided to scrap the idea that was inspired by the season finale — I started to write it, then realized it wasn't really going anywhere, so I gave up. Besides that, I've been working on a one-shot based on this story — it's an absolute monster of one about Ziva giving birth. I think I have too much time on my hands XD This is what being on summer vacation does to me though. And besides that, I've been working on a new multi-chapter story. Details:

Title: The End's Beginning

Rating: T

Summary: It was the end of life as they both knew it, and the beginning of so much more. In the aftermath of a terrible accident, Tony and Ziva are left to pick up the pieces of their lives, and re-learn how to live with the cards fate has dealt them —Tiva—

So if it's something you think you'd be interested in, let me know! I have another story idea that I'm working on called Half A World Away, but I can't for the life of me figure out a decent summary for it. It's an AU story, Tiva obviously. It's set in 2001 — the basic idea is that Tony and Ziva are 18 and just starting college and dating when 9/11 happens, and Tony decides to enlist in the army to fight and goes to Afghanistan and can you see why I'm having a hard time writing a summary for this? Heh…I'll figure it out. If that's something you might be interested in though, let me know!

In the meantime, this is Sam, signing off on this story for the last time! ~Sam