Long time reader, first time publisher. Hope you enjoy, and Happy Holidays :o)

Disclaimer: Taking them out to play and putting them back where they belong. Not mine.

Also: I'm not going to pretend I have even the most basic understanding of Hebrew, so I apologize for any mangled phrasing on my part. Feel free to correct me, I promise I won't get cranky.

jae


Christmas dawned bright and early that morning in the Nation's capital. Although the ground wasn't covered in the usual seasonal snow fall, the weather was brisk enough to suggest that Christmas Day might just yet see a few flurries. For now, the streets within a fifteen mile radius of the Navy Yard were only under the patrol of local crews in the possession of plow equipment. Said trucks were currently the cause of anxiety for two particular people navigating the cities' streets to their intended destination. Those trucks, and a little girl of about four engrossed in some sort of hopping game.

For what seemed to be the tenth time in between where they were and the brief walk from their apartment a block over, another gentle reprimand slipped loose from the young woman's mouth.

"Piper, tatehleh, please slow down, you see we must cross the street soon, yes?" The woman, though clearly on the verge of exasperation, couldn't help the unconscious smile forming on her lips by the end of her sentence. Her companion's expression mirrored her own. He chuckled and reached for her hand. Clearly not accustomed to the gesture, the woman quirked her eyebrow at him, but sensing no threat allowed it as he gently began swinging their arms back and forth.

The little girl, Piper, seized her current game of hopping from brick to brick on the cobbled path. She spun quickly, sending her long curls flying, to smile sheepishly at her older companions. "Sowwy momma, Ani mitzta'eret." Piper quickly made her way back to her mother, reaching her hand out to grasp a few of her mothers fingers in an effort to hold her hand. The man let go of the woman's hand to change his position and casually threw his arm around her shoulders to squeeze her closer.

"Hell on wheels, just like you, Ziva." The man threw at his partner in addition to a cheshire grin, but sobered quickly at the look she shot him and the elbow to his side. He cleared his throat and maneuvered his head to look around his partner, addressing the child.

"Piper, your mother and I don't want you to get hurt. Remember how we talked about the traffic and especially the plow trucks who may not see you?" His face was stern and didn't look as though the expression was one he typically adopted. The face slowly melted into a much gentler expression as the little girl turned her dark, inquisitive eyes on him and observed him intently.

"Sowwy daddy, I forgotted. I can be more cawreful, ken?" she grinned widely at him and started humming a familiar christmas song, still swinging her mothers hand.

The man, clearly putty in the hands of his daughter, deemed the chastising complete. Ziva smirked in amusement and shook her head. They had finally approached the crosswalk they needed to cross in order to reach their destination. Ziva reached down as to lift her daughter up to make the brief journey across the street. Piper wound her hands into her mother's relaxed curls and smiled at her before she began speaking.

"So we go to gampa's after da church to see santa's pwesents dere? Todd said dat we get to open more pwesents wif grampa!" Piper proclaimed excitedly as she looked between her mother and father.

Reaching the other side of the street, Ziva stopped and turned to look at her partner. She eyed him with amusement. "Did he now? I wonder who could have told him that... Tony?"

The man eyed his partner briefly and shook his head. "McLoudmouth needs to reign in his tyke... Although, he could have easily inherited that trait from Abs too." He chuckled as he pondered that and looked ruefully at Ziva.

Ziva shushed him playfully as she set her daughter down. Straightening her daughters bow, she answered her question.

"Perhaps, tatehleh, if you behave today in church. We must sit quietly and listen, ken?" Ziva said smiling as she finished straightening her daughter's hair and kissed her lightly on the nose. Piper scrunched her face and kissed her mother quickly back. "Ken, momma. I'ma good girl! Das what gampa says everwy day!" Piper exclaimed, bubbling with laughter. Tony reached down to swoop his daughter into the air high above his head and looked up at her laughing face.

"That's right, principessa. And don't forget, we are going to Grandpa's to see everybody too and to be together. That's the most important." Tony added lightly to the giggling girl. Piper laughed and nodded her head fervently, and Tony readjusted her on his hip and for the second time that day, threw his arm around his partner to bring her closer. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ziva smile warmly as they made their way up the steps to a dominating stone building. He looked over at her and seemed to repeat a previous question from earlier to her.

"You sure you wanna do Christian Church this year? Things seem to be getting a little too conventional for us... Christmas Day, Christmas mass, happy dinner with family later. Feels weird. Very... Actually, no functional family christmas movies come to mind. But I guess if we are being honest our family isn't exactly functional. Much more A Christmas Story. Or The Muppet Christmas Carol ." He grinned widely as Ziva rolled her eyes but softened the expression with a teasing smile.

"Well, disregarding our "family"... We are the poser couple for conventional, Tony." Her reply was laced with sarcasm.

He grinned wider at the mangled colloquialism. "Poster couple, sweet cheeks."

"Silly language! Ten years and I still do not understand Americans' insistence to use such backward expressions."

Tony rolled his eyes, but held back his usual retort and addressed an even bigger issue.

"My daughter is going to be mangling my native language. She'll be tormented in school. And how is she going to defend herself? Ninja violence is most certainly not acceptable in American schools." He threw his free arm across his face as he feigned distress.

Ziva snorted as Tony placed a light kiss on his daughter's nose before handing her off to her other guardian as to be free to open the large oak doors of the church. Once in her mother's arms, Piper instantly became engrossed with the dangling, silver, Star of David pendant that hung from her mother's neck. Ziva glanced at her daughter with a loving smile she reserved solely for her, stroking her hair fondly.

"I think we should be more concerned with her budding interest in boat building." She noted with pride, knowing she had at least gotten that phrase right.

Tony made a noise akin to disgust. "Boat building," he let out a groan. "We need to act fast. No more babysitting from Gibbs'. We can't implicate her success in American culture further."

"Piper, your father is very silly."

"Ani yoda 'at." Piper giggled from her mother's arms and nodded in agreement. Tony chuckled and ushered his family inside the church.

Conventional, he supposed, wasn't so bad.