2 …is a deal
Tony was not within reaching distance when Ziva had the baby; he wasn't even in the same time zone. Within her medicine ball and several layers of coats was neither triplets nor the world's biggest baby. In fact, what was in there was astonishingly tiny, barely six pounds and most of it round, small enough to barely need Tony's second hand. As Tony had predicted, Ziva had not enjoyed the process at all, and it had been made worse by his absence and a guilty fear that too much flan could cause early labor. But the baby that came out seemed to be fully cooked, judging by the volume of her screams and the speed with which she latched onto the breast. A DiNozzo after all, just in a big hurry to get to the table.
So Ziva had her Rebecca. The blank birth certificate threw her for a loop, because she hadn't considered the issue of a middle name. Tony was his usual helpful self, tossing out ever more ridiculous possibilities while fiddling with his cell phone. "I get to name her, and if you are playing games on that phone," Ziva said, "you will be waiting much longer than six weeks."
"I'm not playing games, and you won't last a day past six weeks anyway. What's wrong with Donalda as a middle name?"
"Everything. What are you doing?"
"Ordering stuff. Is extra teeny a size?"
"No. And she will fit in the things we've already bought. Eventually."
"She'll be a halfsie in those onesies. And they're yellow and green."
"She's a girl, Ziva. My daughter's getting pink onesies."
"My daughter might not like pink."
Tony grunted and went back to his cellphone.
"Victoria," Ziva said at last. "I think that sounds very nice."
"Rebecca Victoria." Tony snorted. "With a name like that, she'd better like pink. And that's at least three syllables too many for something that size."
"No arguing, no second guessing, no criticism," Ziva said.
"I remember." He grinned. "Oh, I remember. Worth it."
It was quite a mouthful for such a little thing, even if she had the lungs of a carnival barker. Tony called her Scrap, Mosquito, Duckpin, Matzo, Short Round, and Tomato. Ziva didn't approve of any of the nicknames, but she had to admit that Tomato was fair enough. The least delay in service set off a red-faced racket and the little thatch of dark hair on the top of her hair seemed to stand straight up, as outraged as the rest of her.
But a six-pound baby, or even a seven-pound baby—which she soon was-can't be Rebecca Victoria DiNozzo any more than she can be Scrap or Duckpin or even Tomato. Somewhere around the time she was able to hold up her head and Tony got less nervous about holding her, he began to call her first Becca and then Becks. It stuck. Ziva was kind enough to not point out that Tony's daughter shared a nickname with the world's most famous soccer player. He was unkind enough to point out that the ninja's daughter was the girliest girl imaginable, grabbing at anything shiny or pink or ruffly, save for her rabid fondness for football. She also had an enduring taste for fried food and flan, but Ziva felt no compunction to take responsibility for that.
Time passed, and they had their happiness but the occasional trouble and disappointment as well, and nearly six years passed before Ziva had the good fortune to sit up in bed once again contemplating a pregnant belly, though not quite as pregnant as before.
Of course, the health and well-being of her baby was again at the top of her I-Want list. But a baby was no longer abstract to her. She was a veteran this time, with no need to practice on a disturbingly spongy toy. She already knew the hours of tedium and exhaustion that were before her, though she liked to think she could no longer be surprised by the contents of a diaper. She had first-hand experience of all the important milestones the baby books talked about. She also knew all the things that the baby books didn't talk about, how perfectly a warm baby fit into her arms, the hours well wasted on peek-a-boo and pattycake and splashing in the bath, and the astonishment of seeing a personality emerge.
So this time she was again anxious to get to the baby portion of the program. But her desire to get to the end had little to do with her physical condition. This time she was not pregnant all over. Instead, she was a model expectant mother, just pregnant in the front middle, with only a touch of extra softness in her face and neck. (And the boobs of course, whose return Tony greeted with gratitude and loving attention.) Her ankles were still visible. This baby seemed to sit higher, so her bathroom trips were a bit less frequent, though she was now breathing hard by the time she reached the top floor of the flat.
She was just beginning her third trimester, but she still felt as sprightly and almost as energetic as she had during the second trimester. She was still belching and farting, but she thought not as much as last time, though perhaps the loss of the flan abuela might have had something to do with that. Still, there was enough expelling that Gas Girl had been resurrected. Tony had been a little offended when McGee, aficionado of both comic books and computer games, had mocked the concept. "McGee has no sense of satire," he'd complained. "Or vision. This could be a gold mine."
This pregnancy was so different from her first that she felt the only explanation was chromosomal. Pregnant all over + consoled by flan = girl, mostly not pregnant all over + hornier than hell = boy. The latter condition, in particular, she felt was explained by the presence of Tony's Y chromosome in her bloodstream.
In front of the bathroom mirror, Tony caught her glance, put on a face of mock distress, and said, "Are you going to ravish me again?"
"You wish," she said, but she did have plans. She wasn't on the no-fly list yet. "You need the exercise," she added. "You did not need that last churro."
"Apparently I did." Tony smacked his stomach. "Still prime. And willing to put up with the stink bombs, Gas Girl." He was a bit thinner than he had been, and going gray, but still juicy. But there was no point in trying to rush him through his evening routine.
She was pleased by the idea of a boy, and she felt certain that Tony would be pleased as well. Becks had been very clear in her request for a little brother. They had both worried how Becks might react to a sister, but Becks's desire for a brother seemed to stem more from the hope for a football player in the family than concern about being displaced as the Most Beautiful Girl in the World.
And Ziva liked this little man, as she had come to call him. He was perhaps the most considerate fetus ever, keeping regular and convenient hours. She pictured him as a disciplined athlete, a long-distance swimmer perhaps, keeping to a strict training regimen of regular exercise and rest. As usual, he was settling down from his evening paddle. He'd wake her later, but most nights she got several hours of sleep right off the bat, which she much appreciated.
So, little man. Of course Tony would want him to be another Anthony DiNozzo, and Ziva felt she could agree with this. The little man's regular habits and reasonable demands made her feel that he would be an Anthony, and so there were would be no name problem. But listening to Tony try to whistle as he flossed, she had a sudden start. She had had no clue that she'd been incubating such a DiNozzo the last time. Tony's X chromosome had proven dominant in the personality category. What on earth could his Y chromosome do? Her little man, who seemed so dependable and considerate now, was all too likely to bound out full of impatience and appetite and Tiggerish vitality—in other words, a Tony.
"What will we call him?" she murmured.
"Call who?" Tony asked, around a mouthful of floss. He had complained that McGee's bachelor party had been the worst bachelor party ever, as most of the talk had been of McGee's recent periodontal difficulties. Root canals, gum surgery, implants—"And the wrong kind of implants," Tony had groused. But he'd taken to flossing more seriously, which Ziva appreciated. Dental surgery was expensive and they would now have two college educations to pay for. Also, Tony had very handsome teeth, which Ziva would miss.
"The little man," she said without thinking.
"Little man?" That was enough to interrupt Tony's inspection of his very handsome teeth and bring him into the bedroom. "You cheated."
"I have not cheated. I just have a strong feeling."
"Flan sense," she said, but declined to explain further.
"We don't need a discussion about what to call him," Tony said, and went back to his flossing.
Ziva crossed her hands over her belly, for apparently neither the discussion of his name nor the likelihood of marital activity was enough to deter the little man from his usual nighttime habits. Anthony D. DiNozzo the Third. She tried to remember what nicknames Americans gave to the third and came up dry. She was torn between wondering how they would survive with two Tonys in the house and remembering Tony's Iron Law of Sequels: The Third Always Sucks. Would naming her little man Anthony D. DiNozzo the Third doom him to a life of Ewok-dom?
"I'm just wondering," Ziva said, "what we'll do for a nickname."
"Why does he need a nickname?"
"He'll have one anyway," Ziva said. "With you around, he will probably have dozens. I just think it will be confusing to have two Tonys."
"Why would we have two Tonys?"
"Well, he might be an Anthony."
"I don't want to name him Anthony."
Ziva felt the blood drain from her face. Suddenly, all the unlikely names were back in play. "Then what do you think we-?"
"We?" Tony said. "Me. Remember? No arguing, no criticism, no second guessing."
"That was not the deal. That was just for Rebecca."
"That's not what you agreed to. You name the girls, I name the boys. That was the deal."
"That is not what I wanted."
"That's what you agreed to. You lifted your shirt, Ziva. I'm not likely to forget."
He was done flossing and onto brushing, and Ziva was onto worrying. It was lovely that Tony and Gibbs had reconciled, but Gibbs did not have a single name that she wanted attached to her little man. Leroy? Jethro? Gibbs? Gibbs DiNozzo was a one-way ticket to gangsterdom. Buckeye DiNozzo? Tony might well do it, and Becks would egg him on.
"And besides," Tony said around his toothbrush, "you should give me this one anyway. You got to name Becks."
She had been so anxious to name Becks—whom no one but Ducky called Rebecca anyway—that she hadn't thought about the back end of the deal. And of course Tony wouldn't forget. Oh, why hadn't she pinky sworn instead? On the upside, she thought, she still had the naming rights to a girl. But she looked at her trim arms and her still-visible toes and knew that no one would be naming a Baby Girl DiNozzo this time. "So you don't want to name him Anthony?"
"Nope," Tony said. "I hated being Junior."
"He wouldn't be Junior."
"No, he'd be Trip or Trey or something even worse."
Trip or Trey was better than Domino or Han, or even Alfred, which was at least a real name. John Ford DiNozzo? Not bad, but still not acceptable. John Wayne DiNozzo? Serial killers had the middle name Wayne. Tony wouldn't do it. Duke DiNozzo? Oh dear.
"Don't be so worried," Tony said. "I told you, I have the perfect name."
"I'm sure you do," Ziva said. "It's just—"
Tony came out of the bathroom, crestfallen. "You really think I'd give my son a ridiculous name."
Well, yes. Now she felt terrible. And yet her considerate little man deserved her best efforts. "Not intentionally," she said.
"Even unintentionally," Tony huffed. "I'm not likely to be careless about this, Ziva. I went to boarding school and military school and camp. I know every stupid way a name can be twisted. I'm not going to screw this up."
"Duckpin," she said.
"That was just in the house," Tony said. And then he smiled. "You have to admit that was a good one."
His grooming finally finished, he turned off the light and slid into bed beside her. He was thinner and grayer but still a human furnace. "You should trust me on this. Seriously, it's a great name. He could be president with this name."
"I will trust you," she said, but she didn't.
"Oh, don't sound like that," he said. "You're still getting lucky tonight. But you're doing most of the work."
"I'm pregnant," she protested.
"And still surprisingly agile. But you hurt my feelings. Take it or leave it."
She was worried about her little man's future, but her little man's Y chromosome limited her options. She was in no mood to leave it. So she did a bit of the work, and afterwards, warm and sleepy but still with her ninja-senses intact, she whispered, "So what is the name of our future president?"
"Oh, Zee-vah," he laughed. "Did you really think it would be that easy?"
There were few things Tony enjoyed more than having the upper hand and he didn't often have the upper hand on Ziva, so he enjoyed this hugely. Ziva tried Rule 16, which was an easy rule to invoke but hard to implement. Her stratagems failed. She tried food. He ate with gusto and thanked her, but kept his Cheshire grin. She tried drink, but he had his Dionysian impulses under control these days and kept his wits. She quizzed Becks, who had no idea but was rooting for Buckeye DiNozzo. "We'd be in the alumni magazine," Becks said. "We might even get box seats to Homecoming."
She was even reduced to using a need for serenity in the face of impending labor. "Ninjas don't need serenity," Tony said. "You thrive on conflict. You look awesome, by the way." He had no conscience when it came to using compliments.
"You're worrying about nothing, my dear," Ducky told her. "Anthony always takes the serious things seriously. And he always does the right thing in the end."
"But he might think that naming his son Bullitt is the right thing," Ziva moaned.
"Use your feminine wiles," Abby suggested. "And if that doesn't work, cut him off." Abby was adjusting to married life well.
"Not an option at the moment," Ziva groaned.
"Don't play his game," Gibbs advised. "You should know better by now."
But she had been playing games with Tony too long to know how to stop. Eventually her ankles started to disappear, and her bathroom trips got more frequent, and she was breathless on the second flight of stairs, not just the third. Tony was sweet and cut down on the Gas Girl jokes but kept his counsel.
In the end, she was reduced to blind guessing. "Clint?"
"Good name, but don't you think Eastwood is more distinctive?"
Neither, she thought, as there was no tell. Tony's poker face wasn't as good as he thought. "Paul?"
"Nice name, but I always think of him as Butch."
Butch. Oh, no. But again no tell, so she felt a little better. "Sundance?"
Tony scratched his chin. "The commercialization of Sundance ruined independent filmmaking."
So no Sundance, or Redford. Good, good, good. "McQueen?"
"Do you know his real name was Terrence? Ugh."
She was too afraid to mention Bullitt; no point in giving him ideas. "Bond."
"Quit worrying. I told you, with this name the kid could be president. Will be president."
President. Was that a clue? What presidents did Tony admire? Kennedy? Great style; Tony loved those trim two-button suits. Roosevelt? Tony liked big sticks, even if talking softly eluded him. Theodore? Wasn't that the real name of the Beaver? Did that make Theodore more or less likely? Chester? Arthur? What were the odds that Tony even knew there had been a president named Chester Arthur? He had never overstudied for his citizenship exam.
"You're not even in the right ballpark," Tony said. "You underestimate me, Ziva."
"I gave you my tarta de platano," Ziva said.
"You gave me one-quarter of your tarta, and bananas give you indigestion anyway." He frowned. "It wasn't a very good tarta."
It hadn't been, and it was lying very heavy on her. "I surrender," she said.
"No, you don't," Tony said. "You'll find out soon enough."
"If this is a girl," Ziva said, "you will not get so much as an initial. If you can hold me to the deal, I can hold you."
"It's a boy. Settle down already. Some of us are still working full time." His warm foot was on top of hers. "There are limits to how far I'll go to aggravate you."
"You have been testing the limits."
Her feet were chilly and tired and he knew how to make them feel better. He was expert at testing her limits but also at reminding her of his good points. So when he put his arm around her, she settled in. "You are going to be amazed at how great this name is. And crushed that you didn't think of it."
"Enough," Ziva said. "No arguing, no second guessing, no criticism."
"Still," he said, "I'm not planning on being in reaching distance. You have extra reason this time."
"Do not plan on procreating again," she said. "At least not with me. Not after this."
"Oh, Zee-vah." Tony tsk-tsked. "What about little Domino DiNozzo?"
Once again, Tony was not only not within reaching distance, he was not even on dry land. The next day, Ziva grumbled, "How do you manage it?"
"How do you manage it?" Tony asked. "Both times I was assured it was okay to go, that there was plenty of time. And then you pop like a champagne cork."
"If only it were that simple." But she was too absorbed by the complicated maneuver under way to stay annoyed. Becks was in Tony's lap, Tony holding her so that she could hold the new baby. And then once the maneuver was complete and the nurse started taking pictures, Ziva felt all snuffly again. Damned hormones.
"He's heavy," Becks said. "Was I this big?"
"Not half as big," Tony said. Not entirely true, for his son was not quite eight pounds. "He's like a shoestring, though. Did they measure him? He must be the longest baby in the world."
"I am sure they measured him, and I am sure they would have mentioned a world record."
"Still," Tony said. "Definitely a basketball player. And look at the hands on this one. He'll be palming the ball in kindergarten."
"You should see his feet," Ziva said.
"A true DiNozzo man," Tony grinned. "I bet he's-"
"His eyes are blue!" Becks said.
His eyes were blue, and the bit of fuzz on his head was a dirty blond. Ziva was puzzled, for she could remember no blue-eyed relative in her family, and she had assumed that this baby would be dark-eyed and dark-haired like Becks. "Do babies' eyes change color?" she asked.
"Don't ask me," Tony said. "My knowledge of biology is practical, not theoretical."
"He's heavy," Becks said again, and another complicated maneuver ensued, while Becks wriggled off her father's lap. Ziva half-expected to see both her daughter and her son upended, but Tony could palm a baby pretty well and it ended with no injuries. Still, Becks hung around, beaming. "This is so much better than a puppy," she said.
And the moment was at hand. The nurse had dropped off the paperwork for the birth certificate. "Well?" Ziva said. "We cannot call him Puppy. What is it?"
"Stretch!" Becks suggested.
"Good one," Tony said. "But they'll call him that anyway."
"Tony," Ziva said.
He beamed. It was what she thought of as his little-boy smile, big and open, proud, with no hint of irony. "David," he said, immensely pleased with himself.
A moment passed. "David?" she said.
Well, yes, David DiNozzo sounded very nice. And it was a lovely, lovely thought. "You tortured me for months over this?"
"It was hardly months, and if you'd just trusted me, there wouldn't have been any torture." He looked at the baby more closely. "You know, I think he looks like me. Not just the eyes."
"I think he might have your nose," Ziva said. Her DiNozzos looked very good together. "I hope he doesn't have your sense of humor."
"You're just jealous," Tony said. "It's perfect, and I thought of it."
"Is this why you were so insistent on no hyphens?"
"No, the hyphen thing is just stupid."
"What about a middle name?"
"No middle name. I thought about it, and nothing sounded right. Just David DiNozzo."
Damned hormones. "Anthony would sound nice. David Anthony DiNozzo."
"His initials would be DAD. No, just David. No arguments, no criticism, no second guessing." He stood up and groaned. "I hate helicopters. Here, take the stringbean. Becks, give me my phone."
Ziva took her son, who, true to form, had taken all the passing around in stride and was settling back to sleep, right on schedule. "If you are playing games on that phone-"
"Again, you won't last a day past the six weeks. Try a credible threat. No, I'm sending cigars." He grinned. "Maybe that'll cure McGum's dental problems. Are you crying?"
"No," Ziva mumbled. "You are a very aggravating man."
"You call it aggravating, I call it ninja management," Tony said.
The baby's eyes stayed blue, or, more accurately, changeable like his father's, and he did have his father's nose and his wayward hair. His mouth was his own. He was as patient and determined and considerate as he'd been in the womb. His sister had been born small and stayed that way; he was born tall and stayed that way.
In the early days Tony called him String, Noodle, Dunk, Beanstalk, French Fry, and Mitts. Becks called him Puppy. With his big hands and his big feet and his good nature, smiling while his sister tried to haul him into a standing position long before he could manage it on his own, he might have been a Labrador. It fit so well that Ziva became alarmed and insisted that he be called David before Puppy became permanent. They all tried, but the DiNozzos were congenitally incapable of sticking to given names, and David soon became Davy. It wasn't exactly presidential, but it was better than Puppy, and this nickname stuck. Davy he became, and Davy he stayed.