A/N: Prompt from Tumblr. Enjoy.
"Zoe! Jayden!" Tony called from the kitchen. "Dinner's ready!" He pulled the piping hot lasagne out of the oven and served it up on four plates, placing plastic wrap over two of them and putting them away for later.
Jayden was at the table before Tony even finished speaking. For a kid of six, the boy sure could eat. But he tilted his head at his father, his dark eyebrows close in a frown. "Why are you wearing Mommy's apron?"
"It's not your mother's, it's - " He looked down at himself. The black apron was tight around the waste and large around the chest, making it the one Ziva had become rather attached to once their daughter Zoe had reached the age of three or so. "I didn't wanna get my shirt dirty. Where's your sister?"
Jayden shrugged. "Haven't seen her."
"Stay there, Jay," Tony ordered, making his way down the hall. That was warning sign number one: Zoe was never holed up in her room for long, unless she was sleeping.
He lightly stepped along the hall, and looked at the picture of his little princess on the wall. She had her mother's eyes and hair - not like Jayden, who was just like his dad. Carefully, he twisted the doorknob to Zoe's room and opened it up."Zo?" he said.
"I'm not hungry," she replied, looking away from him, focusing on the Nintendo DS in her hands.
"But it's lasagne. It's your favourite," he tried. Poor Zoe just shook her head.
Tony paced over to her and sat down on her bed. He gently removed the device from his daughter's hands. "What's up, Zo?"
Zoe sniffed, lifting her little circular glasses and rubbing her eyes. Her nose and cheeks were red, and her voice was shaky.
"Why don't my legs work, Daddy?" At his daughter's words, Tony's heart shattered into a million pieces. He had been waiting for this day for a very, very long time.
"At school they make fun of me because I'm in this chair all the time. They're not nice like you and mommy and JayJay. I can't do anything the other kids do. I can't play tag, or sports. I'm always the last out of the room. No one wants to sit with me."
Zoe held her little head in her hands. She was small for her age, so the first thing Tony did was lift her out of the chair and placed her on his lap, her legs hanging limply. He picked up her favourite bear and handed it to her. She clutched the worn out old toy to her chest and snuggled up to Tony.
"Just tell me why I have to be different, Daddy," she whispered. "You were born early, Zoe.," Tony said, stroking his daughter's hair. "Really early. The doctors all thought you weren't going to make it, you were so small. It was scary."
"They thought I was going to...die?" She said the last word so quietly it was barely audible. "We all did. Your mom was so upset. She loved you so much. Still does. But you did make it. You just couldn't use your legs."
"Will they ever work?"
He hesitated. He'd asked a million times, and they'd all said not likely within Zoe's lifetime. He wanted to be honest but he couldn't shatter her dreams like that. She didn't deserve any more sadness.
"Maybe," he choked out. "But even if they don't, you're still the most special girl in the whole world. You play that piano almost as nicely as your mother. And from wheeling yourself around so much you're strong enough to beat Uncle Tim in an arm wrestle. You know, some people can't even move their arm either."
Zoe looked up, an expression of sympathy gracing her little face. "Some people can't control anything. People have to help them do everything. You do more than most eight-year-olds, you know. Even with that chair. You're a clever girl, Zo."
"I love you, Daddy," Zoe said, throwing her arms around Tony. "I love you too, sweetheart," Tony whispered, holding his daughter tightly. "More than anything. Now hurry, or your lasagne's gonna get cold."