What Has Always Been

Jethro barks happily as Tim enters the apartment and places his front paws on Tim's chest in anticipation of their walk. Tim chuckles as he rubs the dog's ears and tells him to let him get changed. Tim walks into the bathroom and changing out of his suit into jeans and a t-shirt. The carnival is in town and he wants to show Ziva a festive time.

Stopping long enough to make them each a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and grabbing the thermos out of the fridge he puts the sandwiches in Ziploc baggies before putting all three items into his pack and then grabbing Jethro's leash he grabs the spare backpack by the door and locks it behind them.

Ziva smiles when she sees Jethro prancing along beside Tim. She's been hard pressed to get Tim away from that prehistoric dinosaur of a typewriter lately, his creative muses talking to him late into the night. She's fallen asleep on the couch many times this past week listening to the rhythmic tapping of the keys, while soft jazz plays in the background.

Seeing the pack in his hand, and knowing that Jethro will be going with them, she offers to take the dog's leash while Tim stows his pack. Softly commanding the dog to stay, Tim puts his pack in the trunk before hustling over and gently handing both dog and woman into the car.

Driving the few miles to their destination Tim can see that Ziva is curious about the day ahead of them. Tim parks a few blocks away from the brightly colored tents and wagons that she can see in the distance and Ziva turns her bright gaze on Tim who smiles as he grabs his keys and Jethro's leash.

He hustles around to Ziva's side of the car and she waits patiently for him to open the door for her indulging him in his chivalrous behavior. They then walk to the back of the car where Tim pops the trunk using his key fob and he pulls out a blanket as well as the pack. Seeing her inquisitive gaze Tim blushes as he closes the trunk and slinging it over his shoulder, takes her by the hand to lead her up the hill

"Whenever we'd go to the carnival, our grandmother would pack us a picnic lunch of sandwiches and lemonade. We'd find a nice place nearby and set up the picnic basket then we'd go to the carnival to walk off the meal."

Ziva hugs his arm as they walk up the hillside. . Jethro wanders slightly ahead of them, sniffing at this bush or that tree. Soon Tim is announcing they've reached their destination and shakes out the blanket and then pulls out the thermos of lemonade that he'd put in his pack just prior to leaving his apartment. He then reaches into the pack for the sandwiches and a small bag of potato chips.

Eating in companionable silence, they munch on the sandwiches and chips then Tim uncaps the thermos and offers her the first cup of lemonade. Ziva drinks her fill then hands the cup back to him so that he can have some too. Settling back against the blankets, she stares up into the sky, shading her eyes against the sun.

"Is Mars going to be up there tonight?"

Tim thinks about the time of year, their location and then the telescope in the trunk of the car. He nods slowly and she stares at him as he shyly admits that he had been hoping she'd want to stay out and do some stargazing with him.

"I asked the owner for permission to camp here tonight. The tent is in the trunk if we want to stay or we can go back to the hotel in town."

Ziva gets a wicked smile on her face and Tim gulps as he imagines just what she might have in mind for him and their evening to come. Jethro barks, and then licks both of them on the cheek and Ziva laughs at the dog's antics.

"Come my dear Timothy, I do believe we have a carnival to attend."

With Jethro padding ahead of them they walk towards the first of the booths. Tim starts to back away but Ziva just smiles as she ducks inside the brightly colored tent. Waiting for her eyes to adjust to the incense and darkness, she doesn't immediately see the elderly fortune teller until the other woman clears her throat.

"Oh, I am sorry, I did not see you."

"There is nothing to be sorry for my dear. You are not the first person to walk unknowing into my domain."

"Still, I should have seen you."

"Sometimes we are not meant to see what is in front of us. We need to have a clear mind and clear heart to see what has always been there and will be there in years to come."

Ziva hands the fortune teller a five dollar bill and backs out of the tent. She bumps into Tim who is waiting patiently for her to emerge. He steadies her gently and waits for her eyes to adjust to the sunshine before guiding her to another booth.

Seeing the unnatural paleness in her face he leads her to the one building that the carnival has been set up around. They step inside what used to be an old saloon and Ziva blinks as she sees the bar complete with barkeeper and barstools. Tim leads her over and introduces her.

"Hey McGee, this your lady?"

"Hey Sean, this is Ziva. We work together." Tim says in reply and Jethro lets out a sharp bark. "Oh and this is Jethro."

Sean smiles at the dog and Ziva catches her breath as he comes around the corner of the counter. Sean is in a wheelchair and being escorted by his service dog Ginger. The two animals sniff at each other before sitting beside their respective owners.

"You know each other I take it?" Ziva's quiet question is met with soft smiles and she knows that there's yet another tale to be told. Sean leads her over to the billiards table and Tim follows behind watching as Ziva sets up the table for the first shot.

Over the course of the next hour, Ziva listens intently as Sean and Tim regale her with tales of the past while attempting to one up each other at the game. Seeing the sun dipping in the distance, she gets both men's attention when she stands and bending over to set up the balls one last time, says "As much as I have enjoyed this time getting to know your friend, we really must be going."

With that, she lines up the cue ball and chalks her cue stick. Tim smiles knowingly and Sean stares at him. "Just watch the master at work, buddy." Tim says as the stick slams against the plain white ball.

All fifteen balls, colored and striped zip into the pockets of the green clad table. Sean whistles his admiration as the eight ball circles once before being the last to drop.

"Tim, I believe we have a carnival to finish going through." With that she picks up Jethro's leash and heads outside

Tim chuckles and Sean looks at him in surprise. "She makes you happy. Congrats bud, she's definitely a keeper if she can do that."

Tim tells him what he has planned for later that evening and Sean pats him on the back. "Good luck. I think she feels the same way judging by the way she was watching you play today."

Hope gleams in Tim's emerald green eyes and Sean smiles softly to himself as Ginger leads him back to his spot behind the bar.

Four hours later, arms laden with prizes that they'd both won, Tim asks Ziva if she'll take Jethro's leash. She does so and the dog leads them back to the hillside and Ziva blinks as the fireflies seemingly light their way, leading them to the small blanket on the hill. Tim then asks if she wants to stay the night on the hill watching the stars go by and Ziva nods as she follows him back to the car.

Tim looks at her in the darkening night and blushingly asks her to fish his keys out of his front pocket. Ziva gently reaches in and closes her hand around the key fob. Tim inhales as she accidently brushes her fingertips against him and she looks up at him with an innocent glint in her eyes. Dropping the prizes into the now open trunk, Tim reaches for the tent that he stowed away earlier as well as another small backpack and the telescope.

They move back up the hillside and quickly set up the tent, and soon Tim is showing her the constellations. The stars are shining brightly but nowhere near as bright as the light in Ziva's eyes when Tim turns to her after telling her about the constellation shaped liked a W in the night sky.

"Cassiopeia was a vain queen who lived in ancient Greece, and is said to be the mother of the equally lovely Andromeda, both of whom we can see in the skies. In my mind however, neither of them can rival the beauty in front of me." Tim puts his hand into his pocket and pulls out a small box. Ziva catches her breath at the fire sparkling within.

Tim takes her hand in his saying, "I was hoping," Jethro wurfs softly behind him, nudging him in the back, "We were hoping that you'd do us the honor of becoming my wife?"

Nodding in agreement, Ziva thinks about the fortune teller's words from earlier that day, about a clear mind and a clear heart, about that which has been beside her and will be there in years to come and she blinks back hot tears of happiness as Tim slips the ring on her finger and lying down beside her, pulls her into his embrace as they continue watching the stars climb into the sky.

The End

A/N: This was a very impromptu entry for a challenge in which we had to incorporate 5 elements into the story. The elements were someone playing billiards, the planet Mars, peanut butter and jelly, prehistoric, and a fortune teller. The real challenge was that we had to put all those elements into separate sentences and still have a story that was at least 1000 words long.