A/N: We've finally reached the end. Here's the final chapter of the story that's dragged on far too long. My sincere thanks to everyone who has stuck with it and sent such kind reviews. I hope you enjoy the end of it.
Disclaimer: Disclaimed.

When Tony walked down the stairs to Gibbs' basement the following Sunday morning, he felt like he hadn't been there in years. Lately his life had been so busy and different to how it normally was that his brain was having difficulty putting everything in to the right compartments of agent, friend, grandson or brother. The mess it created had him feeling generally out of sorts, and he didn't automatically feel as comfortable in the basement as he usually did. Of course, that might have also been due to his nerves over what he was here to do.

Gibbs was standing under the basement windows and fiddling with a Mason jar full of screws when Tony came in. He didn't look up at the sound of Tony's boots thumping on the stairs, and Tony wondered not for the first time whether the guy had nerves of steel, a flair for the dramatic, or whether he could just tell who was coming by the sound of their car engine and the cadence of their walk. It was probably a combination of all three.

Tony paused on the landing and looked around the basement. To him, it didn't look like the boat had progressed much since he saw it last. Probably Gibbs hadn't been able to spend as much time down there lately, what with Tony being in and out so much. Ziva said that while hers and McGee's workloads had increased, Gibbs hadn't been getting McGee to do the reporting and checking that Tony usually had to do. So either it wasn't being done (which was possible) or Gibbs was doing it himself. It wouldn't leave him with much time for his extra-curricular boat-building activities. But now Tony was back full time he was determined to pick up the slack again. He'd just have to fit it in around the extra-curricular activities he was hoping to add to his own life.

"You gonna hang around there all day?" Gibbs asked.

"Just overseeing your progress," Tony replied, and came down the last few steps. "When will you get this thing in the water?"

Gibbs glanced at him and then over at the boat. "When it's ready."

Fair point, Tony thought.

Gibbs found whatever screw or nail he was after and slipped it into the pocket of his t-shirt before upending the rest of the jar. He held it up between them and lifted an eyebrow, but Tony refused the offer of a drink with a shake of his head. After the last few weeks with his family, he was going to try to cut back on how much he drank. Gibbs put the jar down and then swiped a hand over a sawhorse, sending dust flying. He slid it over to Tony, and Tony took a seat while Gibbs dusted off his stool. Then he sat, facing Tony, and lifted another eyebrow.

Tony started with the easier stuff. "Thanks for being accommodating in the last few weeks."

"It's family, DiNozzo," Gibbs said, justifying his absence for him.

Tony smirked. "Estranged family," he corrected. "Well, not now, I guess." His eyes drifted to the workbench as he thought again about how quickly and efficiently the Mafioso had inserted themselves into his life again. There'd be no getting rid of them again. But while that thought filled him with dread a couple of weeks ago, now he was more comfortable with it. They were strong, wise and formidable women, and if the last couple of years had taught him anything, it was that he really liked women like that.

"You okay?"

Tony looked up with the quick but sincere question. Gibbs couldn't quite meet his eyes—he was about as comfortable sharing emotion was Tony was with seeing it on him. But he was trying. Tony knew he had to start giving out points to people like Gibbs and his dad for trying. "You mean with Dad?" Tony checked. At Gibbs' nod, he shrugged, but nodded. "Yeah. I still don't miss him, I guess. I mean, I barely talked to him or even thought of him in the last 20 years. I mostly just regret how everything happened."

"He reached out to you, Tony," Gibbs said. "Maybe it was only because he was dying, but he did it. With the crap he pulled, it probably would've been easier for him not to."

Tony's eyes crept over to the bottle of bourbon on the workbench. Maybe he could have a little bit to help with the conversation. "I know," he said. "And we talked about some of that crap. And other stuff, which really annoyed me, but which I'll probably be grateful for one day."

Gibbs smirked knowingly. "That's parenting. You tell them the truth, they resent you for it, but eventually they understand."

Tony rolled his eyes. "I'll look forward to that one day."

"It's still worth it," Gibbs told him. "Even if you were still at odds when he passed, I'm sure he was happy you were talking."

Tony's throat tightened uncomfortably, but he swallowed hard to loosen it again. There was not a single chance in hell that he would cry or even tear up in Gibbs' company. Not under any circumstance. "Yeah," he said softly, and then cleared his throat in the hope of finding his voice again. "I know he was happy to have me and the girls together, finally."

To his surprise, Gibbs broke into a wide smile. "You're damn lucky he left you with them."

Tony agreed, but he couldn't work out what Gibbs was getting at. "Why?"

"They're gonna give you focus," Gibbs said with a nod.

Tony frowned. "On what? On family?"

Gibbs gave a tentative nod. "Family. Priorities."

Tony's frown deepened. "Have you been talking to my grandmother?"

Gibbs looked back at him, impassive and silent. Tony nodded his head and held up his hand, admitting that it was a dumb question and inviting him to continue with his independent Gibbs thoughts.

"Wasn't that long ago you were chasing girls Lina's age," Gibbs started, and although Tony got the point, he had to interject to set the record straight.

"Never that young, Gibbs," he said firmly. "I mean, sure. When I was 33, 34, I dated a couple of grad students. But—"

"You're making my point," Gibbs interrupted. "You're seeing them as kids to look after. Not dates."

Tony shifted uncomfortably and tried to focus on what Gibbs was saying, rather than the icky setting he'd put it in. "You're saying that because they're going to rely on me and ask for my advice and help, I'm going to start wanting kids of my own to raise, and to settle down with my own family."

Gibbs shrugged a yes, and Tony had to resist rolling his eyes.

"Well, yeah, boss. I already worked that out," he said, as if he'd been aware of it for years. "I mean, the idea of having someone be dependent on me is absolutely terrifying. But what you said about priorities? I've been hearing that a lot lately. And I've been resisting it, but I think I need to stop."

Gibbs nodded knowingly, but Tony felt there was a resignation to it. He wondered if he'd already worked out why Tony was here. He'd certainly been steering the conversation towards it.

"You gotta know what you're about, DiNozzo," Gibbs said. "And you've got to know when to shift your focus."

Tony nodded along. Gibbs had opened the door for the next and most important part of the conversation, and although he felt a sudden and intense stab of nerves, he had to go through it. "I need to shift mine."

Gibbs bought time with his silence and his eyes set on the floor. Then he heaved a sigh and looked Tony in the eye. "You talked to Ziva about that yet?"

The faintest of smiles tugged at Tony's mouth. Of course Gibbs knew where it was going. He knew everything. And the fact that he wasn't yelling or slapping was a positive sign. Although that might still come later. "I haven't," he told Gibbs, not bothering with explaining himself or his position. Gibbs already knew those things. "I wanted to talk to you first."

"Why's that?"

Tony took a deep breath as he rubbed his hands together and prayed that he wouldn't screw this up. "You know I respect you more than anyone, Gibbs. You've been a mentor to me, and more. And I owe you a lot for who I am now." He paused as Gibbs shifted and his eyes darted away, and Tony got the message to skip over the heartfelt stuff and just get to the point. "I don't want to let you down. And I don't want you to think that I don't appreciate what you've done for this team and why you insist on specific rules."

"I don't," Gibbs said stiffly.

"I need to break that rule, Gibbs. Or at least take a shot at breaking it," he revised. "I don't know whether Ziva will be willing."

"What if she's not?" Gibbs asked, careful to keep the sting out of his tone. Tony understood that Gibbs wanted him to have a plan. You always had to have a backup plan.

"Then I'll accept that and I'll continue my master class on how to shove all my feelings into a tiny box and throw it in the back of my closet."

Gibbs smirked. "Yah."

Tony went on. "I just know that I can't keep lying about all this. I can't keep pretending that I don't need something to make everything we do worth it. All the sacrifice." He paused and brought his feelings over the last few weeks together. "I can't sacrifice what I want for the sake of other people anymore. Not even you. I hope you understand that."

Gibbs shot him a look that was tinged with disappointment. "You think I want you all to be unhappy? I don't." He paused, tipped his head back and breathed deeply before looking at Tony again. "I understand. I want the same thing you want. Difference is I know I won't get it back. But you? You got a shot. So take it."

Tony read the sincerity in Gibbs' face and voice clearly, and it made his stomach tighten with hope. But habit made him double-check. "Really?"

Gibbs eyed him quietly for a moment, and Tony hoped he wasn't reconsidering. But eventually Gibbs nodded and it was final. "Yah."

Tony let out a slow, relieved breath. He'd take that as a blessing. Or at least acceptance. With Gibbs, one was as good as another. "Right," he said as it sank in. "Okay."

"Okay," Gibbs echoed.

"That's good," Tony told him, still getting his head around it.

Gibbs grunted.

"Because I didn't want to piss you off—"

"You're beginning to."

"Right," Tony said again, and got to his feet. He wiped his suddenly sweaty palms on his thighs. "Sorry, boss."

Gibbs sat and watched him as his nerves over the next phase of his plan for the day flared. He didn't move a muscle.

Tony cleared his throat and took a step backwards, barely managing to avoid tripping on the sawhorse. "Okay. I'm gonna go."

Gibbs remained silent.

Tony took another step back and gestured back over his shoulder. "I'm just gonna go and see Ziva now and let her know that I…like her," he said. "A lot."

Gibbs' stone face gave way to a painful wince, and he shook his head in disbelief at the crappy speech his senior agent seemed to have planned. "Tony."

Tony held his hand up to stall any further comment. "I'll work on what I'll say on the way over."

"Yeah," Gibbs said, and then stood and waved Tony away.

"Okay," Tony said yet again, and then turned to jog up the stairs. He paused before he got to the top and ducked his head below the wall to look back at Gibbs. "Hey, boss?"

Gibbs turned to look up at him and raised an eyebrow.

"Thank you."

Gibbs gave him a nod and a brief but genuine smile. "Go on."

Tony returned the smile, and then jogged up the rest of the stairs. He'd be at Ziva's in half an hour.

He turned up at Ziva's apartment with a thundering heartbeat and a recipe for Rose's mojito cake in his hand.

"I know I should have made it for you," he told her. "But I'm no good at baking."

Ziva took the piece of paper with the handwritten family recipe with a smile. "I might make it tonight," She scanned the recipe and then frowned. "There are a lot of different kinds of sugar in this."

Tony shrugged. "It's from my family. What do you expect? Lime and mint doesn't make it healthy."

"I suppose not," she said, and then placed it on the kitchen counter and smiled at him. "Thank you."

"Rose asked me to tell you specifically not to post that on the Internet."

Ziva chuckled. "Then I will not tell any of my food blog followers that I have it."

Tony cocked his head, acknowledging her point. "I promised her I'd tell you. I'm just following through."

Ziva put her hand on her heart. "I will take it to the grave."

She gestured towards the living room with her head, and Tony followed her in. They sat together on her couch and Ziva looked at him appraisingly.

"You look more relaxed than you have."

Given his reason for being with her that afternoon, Tony almost laughed. "Do I?"

She nodded. "Less anxious. You do not feel that you have to hold everyone together anymore. Yes?"

"Yeah," he admitted. "I know I probably didn't have to before, but the Mafioso…" he shook his head, "they're just so emotional."

Ziva smiled. "And you are used to Gibbs and McGee."

He ginned. "Right. And Dad. I mean, he is emotional," he caught himself. "Was. He was. But not about anything that important." His eyes drifted downwards as he reconsidered what he'd just said. Two months ago it would have been true. But, as everyone had been so keen to remind him this week, Anthony had reached out before he died. He'd acknowledged his behavior and apologized for it. Spoken about his regrets. Expressed pride over how Tony had turned out. And the last time the two of them had spoken, Anthony had been very emotional while he had talked about the love of his life and then implored Tony to stop wasting time and go after his.

"That's not true," Ziva said gently as Tony reached the same conclusion.

"No, I guess not," he conceded. "I'm just not used to dealing with the level of emotion the rest of the family displays. I only ever have to deal with me." He threw her a smile, but Ziva didn't return it. She looked at him appraisingly, and then shifted on the couch to turn her body to face him a little more.

"Tony, I do not know if this has been weighing on your mind," she began. "But it has been on mine."

He watched her warily. "What's that?"

"When we had dinner with your family, there was a lot of talk about you not having a family," she said. "But you do. It might not be the kind that you walk down the aisle for, but if what you have is enough for you then you should not feel incomplete."

Tony lifted his eyes to hers, and his heart started hammering again. "What if it's not enough for me?" he asked.

Ziva's head fell to the side just a little bit. He doubted she even noticed. "Is that how you really feel?" she asked softly.

He gazed at her for a moment, taking in her beautiful face, feeling the warmth that spread through him when he thought about being with her, and how much his life could change for the better today if he just followed through on his intentions and was honest with her now.

"Yes," he told her. "It's not enough. I'm luck to have our team, but they're not enough."

Ziva swallowed hard and licked her lips, and he was almost positive that she was hearing what he was telling her. They weren't enough. Gibbs and McGee. But she would be.

"You should look for something else to fill the hole," she said with a thick voice.

"And what if it's complicated?" he had to ask.

She smiled briefly. Tony supposed she thought that 'complicated' was an understatement when it came to the two of them. That was, if she knew they were talking about the two of them now. But she had to, didn't she?

Her voice was unnaturally low and she looked like she was forcing a brave face when she replied, "No one would blame you if you chose the uncomplicated route, Tony."

It wasn't exactly the answer he'd been hoping for, and Tony felt a sense of panic that she might just accept it without a word if he chose that uncomplicated route and walked away from their situation. He had to rule it out as an option.

"The uncomplicated route would be to remain single for the rest of my life," he told her with a tone that made it clear that he didn't like the sound of that. "And as my family was so keen to point out, I don't think I'd live very happily like that."

Part of him expected her to laugh and joke now about the former bachelor DiNozzo making such a statement. And if she was uncomfortable with where she had to know this conversation was going, this would be a perfect point for her to get out of it.

She didn't.

"You are ready to settle down," she finally said after taking a moment to collect herself. "What does that mean to you?"

Tony hesitated. This could be the moment where he told her exactly how he felt about her. Where he laid out everything he wanted from their relationship. And if he took her question at face value, he would have to assume that she wanted to hear it. But did she? There was only one way to know for sure. He'd just have to be ready to seek forgiveness if it all blew up in his face.

He looked at her hand on her knee that was almost toughing his thigh, and for a split second he thought to reach out and hold it in his. But he restrained himself for now—until he knew for sure what she wanted—and met her eyes again.

"It means I want someone to lie in bed with at night," he told her boldly. "I want to tell someone I love them every day. I want someone who can't live without me as much as I can't live without them. I want to get excited about my first kid being born. I want to find a better balance between work and home. Fix my priorities. And in 20 years' time I want to look back on my life and decide that I did pretty good."

By the end of it his heart was thumping so hard he was sure she'd be able to hear it. And maybe the sound of his heart beating and his blood rushing through his ears was the reason he wasn't hearing a response of any kind from her. Maybe, but not likely. It was more likely that he'd pushed it too far and she didn't have a clue what to say, and now she was wishing she'd dropped the conversation when she had the chance. He drew a shallow breath and turned his head away as his eyes burned, and he wondered why the hell he was so determined to put himself out there when she hadn't even given him any firm sign that she was ready for or interested in what he was pushing for.

"Crazy fantasy, huh?" he muttered, attempting to give them a place to move on from.

He didn't know whether she heard him or not, but after another few agonizingly silent moments he felt Ziva's hand settle on his wrist. He didn't underestimate the guts it took for her to do it. He turned his head back to look at her, but now she had turned her head from him. Her hand still lingered, though, and Tony took a chance by lifting his other hand to cover hers. She squeezed his wrist gently in acknowledgement, and then slowly drew her hand away. He felt a pang in his chest, but he didn't chase her like he wanted. Not physically, anyway.

"So. What do you want, Ziva?" he asked gently. "Since we're talking futures and all."

When she hesitated, he felt stung. If not surprised. On any other day this would be the point where he just gave up and let her have her space. But today didn't feel like a normal day, and he was too desperate to know her answer, especially when he'd come so damn far in the last few minutes. Hell, the last few weeks. Her answer would impact greatly on the list he'd allowed himself to be vulnerable enough to provide her with moments ago. He thought she probably knew that, and perhaps that was why she hesitated. But he wasn't interested in allowing her to protect herself right now. He'd put himself on the line—finally—and he was going to drag her out there with him.

"I need to know," he told her plainly. "Doesn't matter what you say, I just need to know."

At that, her chin dropped to her chest and she let out a heavy sigh, and Tony wondered if he'd done himself a disservice by trying to force her to do anything. Ziva was a great soldier and followed orders from her superiors to the letter. Technically, Tony was her superior at work. But here in the outside world, he was her equal. Here in the outside world, she had never responded well to him telling her what to do. But he stood by his decision to push her. His family and even Gibbs had convinced him that this was too important. In fact, her list of wants was probably the most important thing he could think of that would impact on his future. So although she may have been feeling unprepared for the conversation—hell, so was he—he wasn't going to let her walk away from it until he had a clearer idea of where he stood with her. Because, Jesus, after today, she would sure know exactly where she stood with him.

"Please, Ziva," he implored. "When this conversation is over we're still going to be friends. But I just really need to know."

"I know you do," she said softly. "And you deserve to. But it is just so hard to…"

He was her partner to the core. And so when he saw her struggle, he just couldn't stop himself from trying to help her out. "Do you want a family?" he asked, trying to give her some direction.

The question was enough to bring tears to Ziva's eyes. And although she fought them back, the struggle to do so was obvious. Her face crumbled and her fingers dug into her knee, and it looked for all the world like it was the hardest admission she'd ever made. Whatever she'd said to his family at dinner had been polite conversation, not an admission of her deepest desires. He could relate to that. Admitting that he wanted the same thing had taken him the better part of five years and a crack squad of old Italian women working his last nerve for weeks until he broke. And so when all she could do was nod a yes instead of saying it, he didn't blame her. He encouraged her.

"It's okay to want it."

The corner of her mouth lifted in a bittersweet smile and she found words for the thoughts in her head. "I know. But what I want is something permanent. Something that is always mine, no matter what. And I just do not know how feasible any of that is."

Tony swallowed hard and somehow resisted the urge to roll his eyes. All this time she'd been having the same damn thoughts as him. "That sounds reasonable," he replied evenly. "I want that too."

Ziva let out a chuckle that he thought might have been nervous energy instead of humor. "You want a lot."

Yeah, he did. But it wasn't greedy, was it? "Too much?"

Her eyes softened, and she shook her head. "No," she said tightly, and then drew in a deep breath. Her eyes closed briefly as she prepared herself, and when she opened her eyes again he knew she was ready to be honest with him. And herself. "Yes, I want a family," she told him. "I want to let myself love someone openly. I want someone who makes everything I do worth it. And makes everything I do better. I want to be happy. And to make someone else happy for a change." She paused to throw him a self-deprecating smile. "It is not something I am known for."

"Yeah, you are," he pushed out through a tight throat. God, he needed her to know that.

Ziva smiled, but tucked her hair behind her ear in a sure sign that she felt unsure of herself. "I think I am mostly known for being a pain in the ass."

Tony smirked, but it came from a place of affection. "Yes," he agreed. "But those two things aren't mutually exclusive."

She made a face that suggested she didn't quite believe it, but didn't argue the point further. She cleared her throat and looked at him hopefully. "So, that is what I want. I have a feeling that Nonna would be very proud of me for admitting it."

His smile grew, assuring her that he appreciated every word, and he nodded. "Yeah. Definitely."

"Good," she said, and then abruptly got to her feet. "I need some tea. Do you want some tea?"

He nodded a yes and watched her walk to his kitchen. For the longest time he started at the point where she'd disappeared and tried to process what they'd just discussed and admitted to. The both wanted a family. They both wanted something to make their lives happier and more worthwhile. He had implied that he wanted that with her, and Ziva? Well, he didn't feel that she'd made her intentions about who she wanted to do it with clear. But it had to be him, didn't it? She loved him. Didn't she? He dropped his head back against the couch and rubbed his hand over his face. He'd already been terrifyingly open with her. But if he wanted the same back he'd have to go even further. He would have to go all the way.

He stood up before he could change his mind, took a deep breath, and then followed her into the kitchen. Ziva was standing over the kettle, biting her thumbnail as she stared off into space, but her head snapped around at his entrance. Her hand fell away from her mouth quickly and she smiled, but her nerves were as clear as day. It gave him a moment's pause to think that she may not be ready for what was coming, but it was too late for him to stop now. That'd just add another layer of complication to things in the long run.

She swallowed hard as he came around the kitchen counter and leaned back against her pantry doors. It left a few feet of breathing room between them.

"I don't want to be like Gibbs," he reminded her.

Ziva nodded slowly, remembering the conversation they'd had in her living room a few weeks ago. "I know."

"Or my dad."

She nodded again. "Yes, I know."

"Except in one way." He paused, searched for his courage, and then pressed ahead with his plan to start a family. "I don't know if you remember this, Ziva. But on the day we met, you were wearing this big brown shirt, unbuttoned over a white one. Cargo pants. This purple scarf in your hair." He gestured at his head.

Ziva's face visibly softened, and her chest rose with a deep, loud breath. "I do not remember," she told him, almost whispering after emotion had stolen her voice.

His heart squeezed at her physical reaction to his words. He wanted to grab her and hold her, but not yet. "Trust me," he told her with a quick, confident smile. "I remember. I don't know if I liked you very much right away, but the first time I saw you, you intrigued me. And I paid attention."

Ziva watched him quietly, still save for her chest rising high and falling low with her breathing.

"I think you've been informed what that means to the people in my family."

Her head barely lifted in a nod.

He pushed off the cupboard door and took half a step towards her, and then swallowed moisture back into his mouth. "So I just want you to know for sure," he said, "that I love you. That I want you. And that when or if you decide that you ever want me, then I'm ready."

Her eyes widened and filled with tears, and she stared at him with disbelief and hope and love. But she still didn't move. Or speak. Tony refused to take it as a rejection just yet. He took another step towards her and continued.

"I have been avoiding it and denying it for so long," he said, and then cleared his throat to get his voice back. "But the truth is that I feel the same as you. I need something in my life that makes me happy and makes it all worth it. And you make me happy, Ziva."

She bit her lip as her eyebrows drew together in the way they did before she cried. She stayed quiet. He took another step.

"I want more," he told her. "From you. And I want to give you more of me. I think I'd make you happy. Generally speaking," he hastened to add. "Because I get that you'll probably want to smack me with a kettle every now and then."

The joke was what broke her out of her paralysis, and Ziva dropped her chin to her chest and breathed out a chuckled that was touched by affection. "Tony," she sighed.

He took another step towards her until he was just outside her space. "I'm not pushing you," he said softly. "It might feel like it, but I'm not." He paused as she lifted her chin and met his eyes. "I just want you to know that I love you. Now and always."

Ziva glanced away briefly and she swiped at a tear before it reached her cheek. "Have you been practicing all that?" she asked.


She lifted an eyebrow. "Really? Because it was very impressive."

He allowed himself to smile and joke with her, but only after he'd determined that she wasn't going to flat out reject him. "It was, wasn't it?"

For the first time, Ziva shuffled closer to him. "If I ever want you?" she repeated.

He swallowed and nodded quickly. "Yeah. Any time."

She sucked her bottom lip into her mouth as her eyes made a quick scan of him, and it did things to his pulse that he thought he should have warmed up for first. "All the time?" she asked. Her voice was stronger, and he felt her shock ebbing away.

He smiled again, feeling more confident now that she seemed to be responding more like herself. "Boy, I hope so."

"When I am ready."

He deflated again. It sounded like she was going to make him wait. But he nodded, keeping his word. "Yes."

She looked at him then—really looked at him like she did at people when she was looking for the truth. "I believe you when you say that these things are important to you. A family of your own. Someone to love. And that you want them with me—"

"I do," he shot in.

Ziva melted into a smile and swayed towards him. "Tony, I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. And how blessed I feel. Because I love you too, and I want those things with you."

Her admission stole his breath and brought him such a dizzying sense of happiness that for a moment he felt too weak to stand. He reached out to her, but Ziva caught his hand and held it between them.

"But," she said pointedly. "I do not want you to do this in grief. You know what I want, and I know what you want. And that won't change tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. So I will same the same to you: when you decide that you want me, and that you are ready, I will be too."

It took a few moments, but it finally sank in that this was why she'd hesitated and fought admitting to what she'd wanted before. She was worried that he was acting out of grief and panic, and that he might regret making a move when he was under so much stress. But although she was right—he was acting out of grief and panic—she was wrong that he'd regret it. Moving on her would be the best thing to have come out of the rollercoaster of emotion he'd been on lately.

He squeezed her hand. "I know what you're saying, but these feelings for you aren't new to me. I've had them for a long time. The guts to talk to you are the only thing that's new. And I might just have Dad to thank for them."

She smiled, but gave him another chance to reconsider. "I do not want you to wish you had waited."

"I won't," he assured her. "I wish I'd done this sooner. I'm ready when you are."

Ziva nodded, and then turned around and went to the kettle. She switched it off, and then turned again and came back to him. "Okay, then. I am ready, DiNozzo."

A slow smile stretched over his face. "Yeah?"

She stepped right up close to him again and gripped the bottom of his t-shirt, and then tilted her face up to his. "I love you," she breathed. "I want you. So let's do this before we lose our nerve."

And he couldn't do anything but smile with all the happiness in him before Ziva pulled him against her and kissed him with abandon.

It was the first step towards their own family.

Thanks for reading guys!
Pre-emptive As to the Qs I know are coming: I don't really have any more stories planned. The show is currently providing me with a great level of satisfaction, so I don't have the urge to write anything to the contrary of the cannon storyline. It doesn't mean I'm retiring, exactly. But I will certainly never start posting another story before I've finished it. And since it takes me months to write a whole multi-chapter story, I expect I'll be quiet for that long, at least. You might hear from me again during hiatus :)