"Daddy" the voice on the other side of the baby monitor called out, "Can you tell me one more story?"
Ziva looked over at Tony. "That is her third tonight. Something is wrong" She stated.
"I know. I'll go find out what's up" Tony said as he made his way down the hall to his daughter's bedroom.
"Hey baby, what's up?" he asked they young girl as she sat up in her bed.
"Nothing," She replied defensively, "I just wanna hear another story. Please!"
"Annabel Talia DiNozzo, I am your father, don't lie to me. Tell me what's wrong and I'll tell you a story" Tony said.
Annabel looked down at her hands, which had suddenly become very intriguing, and Tony knew he would be getting the truth out of her. He recognized this as a trait from Ziva, a clear tell that she was about to reveal something personal to him. He smiled to himself and waited.
"I'm just scared" She admitted.
"Scared about what?" Tony asked.
"Preschool. I'm scared I'm not gonna have any friends and I'll miss you and Mommy. I wish I could be like you guys, you guys don't get scared of anything!"
Tony smiled. "Of course we do! Me and mommy get scared of things all the time!"
"No! you weren't scared when that spider was in the bathtub, you weren't scared when there was a thunderstorm last week, and you're never scared when you do new stuff!"
"Anna, I think I have the perfect story for you" Tony said with a smile.
"Can it be about princes and princesses?" She asked.
"Of course it can." Tony chuckled and began. "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess with razor sharp ninja skills and an adorable accent"
Annabel chuckled, attributing these qualities to her mother immediately. "Did she have a prince?"
"Of course she had a prince! He was the handsomest in all the land" Tony announce with a wink. "They worked together for the silver-haired King, who had a rule that they were forbidden from being with each other"
"But they're the Prince and the Princess! They have to be together! Why would the King say that?" Annabel asked.
"He meant well," Tony explained, "But when he found out they were together, he gave them his blessing. They fell in love; they even bought a castle together and rode on the same dragon to work!" Tony announced, using one of his daughter's stuffed toy dragons to illustrate the tale.
"One day the prince noticed the princess wasn't feeling too well, and he finally convinced her to see a doctor, which was a lot of work since she was a VERY stubborn princess!"
"And was she okay?" Annabel inquired.
Tony smiled, "Yes, she was. She was feeling sick because she was going to have a baby, and sometimes, when someone's going to have a baby, they feel a little sick because their body's not use to having a baby in it."
Annabel smiled. "A baby? That's good news!"
"Yes, it is, but the princess was still scared anyway, just like you're scared now. She'd never taken care of a baby before and she wasn't planning on having one. She thought the prince would be mad, but he was very, VERY happy, which made her a little less scared. But you know what? The prince was also scared. He didn't know what being a father would be like, and he didn't know how he and the princess were going to make this work. But you know what? They did. They had their beautiful baby princess and then they even got married, and the whole kingdom came! They lived happily ever after because, even though they were scared to do something new, they got through it and found out it wasn't so scary after all!" Tony announced.
Annabel smiled, but then looked confused. "Daddy, how come they had a baby? How'd it get there?" She asked.
"Because they loved each other VERY much" Tony explained.
"Mommy says you're not supposed to love someone that much until AFTER you're married"
"Uh, well, they, uh- You're right! I just, got the order f the story a little mixed up" Tony explained.
"Then how come the baby princess is in their wedding pictures?" She asked, proudly wearing her father's devilish smile.
"Listen kid, the point of the story is that even princes and princesses get scared. You just have to be confident and you'll be fine" He kissed Annabel goodnight and with an "I love you", was off to his own bed. He was surprised to see Ziva had not fallen asleep yet. "What are you still doing up?" he asked.
She smiled. "How could I sleep when you were telling such a good story?" She asked. Tony looked confused and Ziva informed him that the baby monitor had been on the whole time. She had heard everything that had just been said. "It was very interesting. And you know what? The princess is not scared anymore" Ziva said with a large, devilish grin.
"Does that mean what I think it means?" Tony asked.
"Well, Anna's starting pre-school; we're pretty use to being parents, why not? Anthony DiNozzo, let's make a baby".
Tony smiled at the idea of having another little DiNozzo running around and decided that this time, he was not scared.