I do not own NCIS or its characters. But I'm willing to make a reasonable offer. Call me, Glasberg.
The first part of this story takes place not long after In Season, and the second part takes place not long after The Watchtowers of Rota. The premise: Tony and Ziva left NCIS's DC headquarters together to work in Rota and married not long after.
This is just a bit of fluff. Two chapters.
1 A deal…
The world was full of things to want, and Ziva David thought she was as greedy as the next person—unless the next person happened to be Tony DiNozzo, whose appetites were enormous and varied. Still, there were a great many things she might have wanted, one June evening a few weeks before her baby was due. She might, for instance, have wanted the thermostat turned up. Tony insisted on keeping it at 68, even though summer was barely under way and mild at that. But they didn't pay the utilities at the condo, and Tony's feet were big and always warm and rarely stayed on his side of the bed. Sleeping with Tony spared her the unsexiness of sleeping in socks. She could look forward to savings on flannel nightgowns. So turning up the thermostat was not high on her list of desires.
No, she had a tidy mind, well suited to ranking things, and there were three things that topped her I-Want list. The precise ranking varied from moment to moment, but these three were foremost.
Of course she wanted her baby to be healthy and well. She had done all the right things, giving up coffee and alcohol and chocolate and allergy pills. She had taken her vitamins and read the books and was attending a birthing and childcare class. Tiny clothes had been purchased, washed, and folded. A crib had been put together and Tony's long familiarity with IKEA products meant it had been put together without too much cursing. The arrival of the crib had convinced them both that the condo wasn't a long-term solution. This week she had begun calling rental agents and scanning Internet listings, looking for a new flat.
But Ziva had never spent time around babies, and the imminent arrival of her own was an abstract concept to her even as the baby moved around inside her. At the birthing class she fed and burped and diapered a doll with wide-open eyes and a disturbingly spongy texture. It didn't move her, or make any of it more real.
What was terribly real to her at that moment was her intense desire to have this whole business over with. She would have drunk a bucket of coffee and peed in a public street to avoid admitting it, but she was fed up with the indignity of it all. Sitting up in bed that evening, she could not see her toes. No one had seen her ankles for weeks. She had been fit and trim and active all her life. Not now. Some women looked as if they just had a basketball tucked under their shirt. She looked as if she had a medicine ball tucked under her shirt and several overcoats on top of that. She was round and soft everywhere.
And the clothes. Before her pregnancy Tony's shirt collars reached more than halfway around her waist. Now she could only button the shirts halfway down. Only his oldest and most shapeless T-shirts, stretched to the limits, could cover her belly. She waddled around in flip-flops or canvas sneakers and wore dresses that could have hidden enough heavy weaponry to take Rota. (If someone had told her it would be eight months before she was back in her pre-pregnancy cargo pants, she'd have cried on the spot.)
And the underwear. Underpants were not supposed to have empire waists, but these were what Ziva David, with a wondrous collection of silky thongs, had to struggle to put on every day. And pull them down, and pull them back up, because her bladder had shrunk to the size of a pea. Her bras could have been used as pontoon bridges.
And the indigestion. No matter how carefully she watched her diet, she burned and belched and farted. Which Tony found hilarious. He had begun recounting to her the adventures of a new superhero, Gas Girl, whose super power was her ability to stun her enemies with lethal silent-but-deadlies. Her nemesis was Ly Sol, who tried to neutralize her power by lacing her broccoli with Bean-O. Last night he had lovingly described Gas Girl's costume of wilted green and beige. Laughing just encouraged him and made her have to pee again. She found herself asking him to explain, one more time, the plot of 2001: A Space Odyssey just to change the subject.
And the waddling. And the need to lower herself so carefully into a chair, not sure where the seat was. And to lever herself up again. Oh, she wanted it to be over.
But now there was something she wanted even more than for this ordeal to be over. Of course she was on desk duty, but there wasn't much duty, and so every afternoon she would lever herself up and waddle off base to a nearby tea shop run by an older Spanish woman. She would fix Ziva a big cup of ginger tea, with real ginger—for the indigestion, she said. It didn't help much but it tasted good. She called Ziva Mamì and plied her with homemade treats with wonderful names, like suspiros de monja (fried stuff) and churros (fried stuff) and bunuelos de viento (fried stuff). Some days, for variety, she served Ziva flan. And today she had told Ziva that she was carrying a daughter.
Ziva and Tony had agreed early on that they didn't want to know the sex of the baby, and she had not looked too closely at the sonograms. Somewhere in the last few months she had begun wanting her child to be a girl for reasons she didn't understand. She had no particular grounds to think that the nice abuela knew what she was talking about, for all that she could fry just about anything and make it taste good, except that it was what Ziva wanted to hear. Then the abuela told Ziva that she had had six children herself and had eight grandchildren already. "It's a girl," she'd said firmly.
"Why are you so sure?" Ziva had asked.
"With girls, you are pregnant all over."
That was as good a description of Ziva's condition as she'd heard. She had a second flan.
The lack of a close female friend to talk her through this—and to tell her how to deal with the damned underpants—had been making her think more kindly of her mother than she had in many years. Licking the last traces of the second flan off her lips, she had become convinced that her child was a girl just so that she could be named Rebecca. And she had even teared up a bit and snuffled on the way back to the office—the tears were another indignity she could not get used to.
The problem was Tony, who would not give up easily on this, she felt certain. He'd probably want to name a girl after some actress. Audrey she could live with, or even Lauren, but Gene—spelled wrong!—or Hedy? Absolutely not. It had to be Rebecca. She wanted that even more than she'd wanted a third flan, and that flan had been awfully good.
And so she had thought about this all through the rest of the afternoon, and through dinner, and through the evening, and she thought about it now, as she wiggled her unseen toes and waited for Tony to come warm her feet. He was in the bathroom, clipping his toenails. He was humming something and timed his clipping so that the sharp little clicks fit the tune. If she could harness the energy he spent thinking about food and sex and movies and sports and syncopated toenail clipping and direct it to something useful, she thought, she could solve half of the world's problems. Though her life would be a good less deal interesting.
Few things put Tony in a better mood than grooming himself. The time seemed right. "I want to make a deal," she said.
"I'm doing it over the trashcan," he said.
And he was, though he would no doubt overlook the fact that sometimes the clippings sailed away into odd corners—which she certainly wouldn't be reaching any time soon. "It's not that."
"The seat's down." It was, because he had one foot up on it so he could hang it over the trashcan. It was not the most graceful pose, and yet not a bad look on him. Rota had been good for him. She liked to think it was her cooking, but she knew the presence of a basketball court so close to the office had helped too. He couldn't resist showing up the young MPs with his ever-dependable three-point shot. She had noticed that his team somehow always ended up as "skins." His upper body was already tan, and his haunches and legs looked meaty but firm. He was the oldest father in the birthing class but to her he looked the juiciest. Or perhaps pregnancy was affecting her eyesight as well. She wondered if there was any cold roast beef left in the refrigerator.
"I'm doing better with the seat," he added.
True enough; he was nearing 50 percent. "It's not that," she said.
"Is this about the dishwasher?" he asked. "You have to stop washing the dishes before you put them in. You can see why I get confused." He put away the clipper and started brushing his teeth.
"It's not the dishwasher." She worked for the right tone of lightness. "I want to make a deal with you about names."
"Oh, no. No." Tony came out of the bathroom, brandishing his loaded toothbrush. "The kid's last name is DiNozzo. No hyphens."
"What is so bad about hyphens?"
"If you'd met my Bellefleur-Paddington cousins you'd understand. And if you put David and DiNozzo and a hyphen together it's 13 characters. It's bad luck."
"When did you get so afraid of 13?"
"I'm not," he said. "But why risk it? And why make it so hard for the kid? Imagine being a kindergartener with a 13-letter last name."
"The hyphen counts."
"DiNozzo it is," she said. She had always intended to yield on this, and his insistence pleased her. Still, it looked as if he had gained a victory, making her ultimate goal a bit more likely. "But there is the matter of a first name."
"I have the best name for a boy," he said.
No doubt. "Fine," she said. "This is the deal. If it is a girl, I choose the name. If it is a boy, you choose the name." It was a low-risk deal, she thought. She was about 95 percent certain that Tony would think the best name for Tony's son would be Tony's name, and she could live with that. The other five percent thought that he would choose another movie name, but these were generally less objectionable to her. Clint or Sean or James; all well enough and not as embarrassing as, say, Tiffany or Leia.
He looked at her with narrowed eyes, probing for hidden intent. She gave him her best forlorn pregnant woman, which wasn't difficult at this point.
He said, "You name the girls, I name the boys?"
That wasn't the deal she'd offered, but she didn't notice the change. "That is the deal."
"No arguing, no second guessing, no criticism?"
That bit made her nervous, but she was so close to Rebecca-not-Gene. "No arguing, no second guessing, no criticism."
He licked the toothpaste off his lip. "Show me your breasts."
"To seal the deal. More memorable than a pinky swear."
"Hey, you wanted the deal. We can argue about this for weeks. Years, even." His eyes grew dreamy. "Ripley DiNozzo. Honey Ryder DiNozzo. Jet DiNozzo. Uma DiNozzo. Oh, I've got it: Domino DiNozzo."
"You are disgusting."
"You wouldn't have me any other way. Buckeye DiNozzo."
"That is not even a real name."
"It is if it goes on a birth certificate. Samurai DiNozzo."
She lifted her T-shirt. He grinned and then sighed appreciatively. "You have yourself a deal. And you can use Domino if you want." He finished brushing his teeth and then settled down beside her, his arm warm against hers. "You sure you're not having triplets?"
"There is only one heart beat."
"Identical triplets. The heartbeats might be synchronized."
"There was only one baby on the sonogram."
"We didn't look too closely at the sonogram."
"The doctor did."
"Maybe she has a strange sense of humor. Or stock in Pampers." He frowned. "They do have Pampers here, don't they?"
"Yes, but I think we will need a bigger washing machine."
"Why, if there's Pampers?"
"Apparently babies spit up a lot."
"So Gas Girl has a second secret weapon." One of his big warm feet had started migrating towards her little chilly feet. "Football or basketball?"
"I do not think either would be a good secret weapon," she said.
"Oh, funny. No, I mean the kid. Football or basketball?"
"Perhaps it is a girl."
"Girls play basketball. And lots of girls like football. I could still take her to Homecoming."
"Perhaps she will be a soccer player," Ziva said.
He gasped. "Don't even suggest such a thing." His foot had found hers. "I wouldn't mind a soccer player as much as you'd mind a girly-girl."
"She would not get it from me."
"I recall you mentioning ballet lessons. You probably still have that tutu stashed somewhere."
"In your dreams."
"Oh, it will be." He jostled her arm a bit. "The least you could have done was bring me some flan."
"I did not have flan today."
"You did too. You came back smelling of caramelized sugar and guilt."
"It would have thrown off your three-point shot."
"That must have been some flan."
She sighed. "It was a bit heavy."
"Flan DiNozzo. Works for a boy or a girl. It is amazing how everything sounds good with DiNozzo." He jostled her arm again. "Maybe the world's biggest baby is in there. We could be in the Guinness Book of World Records."
"I would not enjoy that."
"I saw Knocked Up. Trust me, you're not going to enjoy this no matter what."
"You saw Knocked Up? What about the movie in birthing class?"
"I was looking down your shirt at the time. And I'm telling you now I won't be within reaching distance when you give birth. I want to live to procreate another day." He turned off the light. "You know, I really do have the perfect name for a boy."
He had turned off the light, but Ziva knew that nothing put Tony in a better mood than being freshly groomed and in bed—except being freshly disheveled and in bed. When he got expansive like this there were two choices: pop the balloon right away, or just go along for the ride. She was all soft and rounded, with no sharp edges at hand. So she put on her best Sean Connery and said, "We named the dog Indiana."
"You do a terrible Connery. Harrison DiNozzo. Also works for a boy or a girl."
"Chewbacca DiNozzo. But only if she's as hairy as you."
"I'm not that hairy. Double O DiNozzo. He'll be born with a license to thrill."
"Also works for a boy or a girl. You wait and see. It's a boy. And I have a great name."
And so they chatted on for a bit more, trading ridiculous names, until he fell asleep, and she levered herself up for another trip to the bathroom. In the mirror she grinned at her round, soft, unfamiliar face. She'd gotten what she wanted. She wasn't worried about the back end of the bet, either.