Finally making my rounds and updating everything. It's taken a while to get back into the groove in light of Cote leaving. I'll continue to update this until I run out of ideas. I have an ending written, but from time to time I think of different ideas to incorporate into this story. I've been busy working on other things as well, as you can tell from my other story updates. Enjoy and I hope everyone is well!

P.S - sorry this story has gotten so fluffy, but it's a nice break from the other angsty drabbles i've been writing ;)


Twenty One

Her hand worries the fading wood beneath her fingers, her mind preoccupied by what she is about to face.

Or who, for that matter, as she turns her attention to the small clock of the desktop's LED-lit screen.

The minutes continue to trickle by as she waits for fourteen hundred to arrive. She does the mental calculation again for the hundredth time, checking once more that she had the time right. She does this only out of nervousness; the time-zone difference between anywhere and her native country is as ingrained as her first language.

Unable to wait after their conversation the previous night, Ziva had sent an e-mail to the man she'd had, until recent weeks, been ignoring resolutely for the last several years of her life.

As far as her memory was concerned, though, it seemed like weeks ago she had spoken to one Eli David about her mission that had led her to U.S soil.

He'd responded immediately; as if he had been waiting for her at any moment to extend the olive branch after all this time. He was formal in he response, suggesting a conference call the very next evening at twenty-one hundred, his time. Five minutes to spare.

Ziva sighs, glancing around the study's desk, searching for anything else to focus on as to quell the anxiety knotting her stomach. Her eyes land on the single, lone photo that occupies the space shared by old case files, reports, and bills waiting to be paid. She lifts it delicately, and has to wipe away the dust that had settled over time.

She smiles as she takes in the photograph, willing her mind futilely to come up with the memory that accompanies this moment. It must have been a happy one, for it to be worth preserving in the study they spend much of their post-work hours in. She reasons Tony must have been the one to capture the moment, for the photograph holds only her and whom she presumes is their daughter, no older than a year. Ziva's smile widens because even then, the little girl's smile was contagious. She marvels at how tiny their daughter was, her past self easily anchoring Piper with one arm against her chest, both captured in mid-laughter.

She spends a few moments lost in the hazy past, before the sound she'd been both dreading and waiting for echoed through the room.

The ping of an incoming video message causes her to stiffen.

"Shalom, Ziva." A soft, tired voice greets from thousands of miles away.

Returning the frame carefully to where it rests, she glances once more at the little girl in the picture, the very reason for why this call was taking place. She finally returns her gaze to the man she'd been waiting to see.

"Shalom, Aba." Ziva returns slowly, hesitant eyes meeting through the computer screen for the first time in years.

The silence stretches for several moments.

To her, It feels like an eternity.

He listens from down the hall at the muffled voices conversing back and forth. When a half hour passes without either reaching a higher decibel than what's accustomed in friendly conversation, he assumes that everything was going as well as it could be, given the circumstances.

Setting down the paper he'd only been pretending to read, he readjusts himself upon the couch and looks over to where their daughter is otherwise occupied. Toys are scattered around her, and he watches as she redresses one of her dolls. Tony smiles at the look of acute concentration on her face, the expression, he thinks fondly, so completely Ziva. The same chocolate eyes gaze up at him then, and the little girl's arms fall to her lap.

"Daddy," she sighs, pouting, and he smiles in amusement as he leans forward, resting his chin on his hand and tilting his head to the side.

"Yes, munchkin?" He smirks, watching as she pushes herself up and makes her way toward him. She pauses when she is directly in front of him, patting his cheek and running her hand over his day old stubble.

"Can we go to Gampa's for lunch now?" She turns her pout up a couple notches, and Tony has to stop himself from rolling his eyes at her expression. Brushing away some of her curls that had come out of the braid Ziva had deftly done before breakfast that morning, he regards her sternly.

"We have to wait for mommy to finish her call, remember? Then we can go to Grandpa's." He keeps his tone soft as she nods her understanding dejectedly. Tony glances at his watch on his wrist, though, knowing that is getting late in the afternoon, and decides to compromise.

"How about we make a snack to hold you over?" He grins, laughing when she her face lights up and she nods her head emphatically.

"Pease? An' then we go to Gampa's?"

Getting up from the couch, he ruffles her hair and makes his way toward their kitchen. Her face scrunches in the perfect impression of Ziva as she smooths her hair back, and Tony chuckles over his shoulder.

"Once mommy is done." He reminds her, disappearing around the corner, not waiting for Piper to follow.

She had almost forgotten that she was not alone in their apartment until her father pauses mid-conversation, and his eyes travel to the door that creaks open behind her.

"Momma?" A tentative voice calls, and Ziva's head whips around to gaze at the little girl as she steps into the room. Her hand doesn't leave the doorknob, however, and she begins to look apprehensive when she sees the tension that covers her mother's face; she looks as though she is beginning to regret interrupting her.

Ziva, noticing her apprehension, softens her face in response, rearranging her features to offer her a soft smile. Turning her chair around so it's facing her, she beckons the little girl closer.

"Bo'i he'na, neshomeleh," she calls softly, and slowly Piper makes her way over to her outstretched arms, her thumb nervously traveling to her mouth.

Ziva helps her crawl into her lap, turning once more to face the computer screen where Eli had silently observed the exchange. The little girl frowns at the video window before her, and she reaches out to point at the light that glows indicating the webcam in use.

"Ma ze?" She mumbles over her thumb, looking up at her mother while her finger taps the glowing light on the screen.

Ziva chuckles, but Eli speaks before she can answer.

"She knows hebrew?"

His tone indicates surprise, and she smiles softly before pulling her tiny thumb gently away from her mouth.

"She is learning," She corrects, tapping Piper on the nose and causing her to giggle, and the barest of smiles pull at his mouth at the pride in her voice.

"She speaks well." Eli nods at them, his voice thick. Ziva awards him a small smile, then looks down at the little girl in her lap.

"What do we say, tatehleh?"

Piper looks up at her mother for confirmation, then lets her eyes flicker briefly to the man on the computer screen before dropping her eyes shyly.

"Todah," she mumbles quietly, and both Ziva and Eli chuckle in unison.

She turns to hide her face into her mother's neck, and Ziva smooths a comforting hand down her back, and begins to address Eli over the little girl's head just as she hears the door once more creek open behind her.

"Aba, this is -"

"Piper," Tony's voice reprimands from behind her. She turns to him as he walks into the room, and feels Piper hug her closer around her torso while turning her head deeper into her neck.

"Didn't I say to wait until she was done?" Tony is now beside her, and the little girl turns her head finally to look up at her father, peering out from behind her mother's curls.

"Yes," she replies solemnly, and her voice is small and almost unintelligable. "But daddy, I'm really hunwgry and I wanna go to gampa's."

Tony looks ready to reprimand her further, but Ziva runs another hand over the little girl's hair and shakes her head discretely. He catches her gaze, and his eyes are apologetic.

"It's okay, Tony." Ziva sighs quietly, giving him a reassuring smile, and the apprehension on his face slowly fades.

Looking down at their daughter, she pulls away to better look her in the eyes.

"We will go to your grandfather's, tatehleh," She promises, giving her an encouraging smile, "But you have another one, here." Ziva nods to the screen behind her, where Eli had been watching their family interaction curiously.

Piper frowns at both her parents, and she holds up two, tiny fingers to show them.

"Two gampas?" She questions, her tone unsure, and tries to peek behind her discretely at the computer screen.

Ziva watches Eli's face as she answers, and she can't tell if it's the screen, or if his eyes briefly fill for the smallest of moments. Turning the little girl around to face him properly, she takes the little girl's hand in hers and points to the screen.

"Ken, can you say hello to your Saba?"

Piper frowns in concentration, then looks at Eli curiously on the screen and waves a small hand in his direction.

"Shl'om, Saba," she tries out the word, looking between him and her mother for approval."

Eli chuckles affectionately, and he waves back at her over the feed.

"Shalom, my dear." He replies softly back. His eyes travel to Ziva's, and she feels Tony's hand tighten on her shoulder while he watches them share a meaningful look.

Eli's hebrew is mumbled lowly, far too quick for Piper's understanding, meant for Ziva's ears alone.

"She looks much like Talia. And has much of her nature and heart," he pauses, letting his eyes travel over them all. "And so much of your spirit. You are blessed with a loving family, my Ziva."

His tone is thick, even through his accent, and Tony notes as much. He stays silent, however, and let's Ziva grasp his hand that still rests on her shoulder, her grip curling around his.

"Aní Yodá'at," she responds quietly, and a weight is lifted from her heart.