A/N: So here it is guys, the last chapter. Thank you so much for your support during this story, it means a lot. And Dayne would like to thank everyone who said nice things about him, he never expected to end up with so many fans :) He promises to take good care of Ziva so no one has to send Gibbs after him. Oh, and because a couple people asked - this story is really more about Ziva and her healing. Gibbs makes an appearance because he was the only one she let close after Tony died and even tho she has worked on renewing her friendships with the rest of the team since she and Dayne started dating, this isn't a team story, or the team as a family story, so you'll just have to imagine how everyone else reacted to this change in her life. Sorry if anyone's disappointed. And now, without further delay, I give you the final chapter of Never Again. Thank you for reading :)
It wasn't until five months after their wedding that Siah's adoption papers came through and the boy was thrilled to be officially Isaiah Anthony DiNozzo Cole. Now having rights as his father, Dayne took copies of the paperwork into school the next morning to update his records. That same day Ziva had her annual appointment with their family doctor, Elin Grant. "Well Ziva," she smiled upon entering the room, "how are you doing?"
"Fine," the woman answered automatically and Elin chuckled.
"Nothing new I need to know about?"
She shrugged and then nodded. "I need to update Siah's information. My husband's request for adoption was finally approved."
"That's good news," the doctor agreed, making a note in her chart. "Why don't you bring copies in on Friday? I'll need you back anyways to go over the results of your bloodwork."
Since Somalia doctors had been keeping a close eye on Ziva's health. She suffered from a chronic low iron problem that came and went and often left her feeling tired for days no matter how much sleep she got. Her blood was also monitored for any trace of the infections and viruses that had swept through her body and ravaged her immune system in the months after she returned from Africa. No one was taking a chance on her ever getting that sick again.
"Very well," Ziva agreed, then lay down so Dr. Grant could begin her exam.
Three days later Dayne got home from work and walked in the door, kicking off his shoes as he flipped through the mail. It was the Friday before school started and he'd finally gotten all his prep work done. Gym teachers did not have it as easy as the rest of the world might think. He had to decide on all the sports and activities for every day and week, plus what he would cover in the health class section that was included several times a month. Dropping his keys in a dish on the hall table, he set the mail out in separate piles based on recipient and looked up, stopping in his tracks. His wife sat on the lounger in their livingroom, leaning over with elbows resting on her knees and fingers tangled in her hair as she stared at the floor.
Checking his watch, Dayne frowned. "Sweetheart, why are you home so early?"
It was strange timing for the differences between Dayne and Tony to suddenly list themselves in her head, and she saw them all at a glance before she even realized what she was thinking. Tony always called her babe, ninja, crazy chick etc. But they were passionately in love so it was okay. Dayne used endearments like sweetheart, love, honey and beautiful, along with some old fashioned ones she's never heard outside of novels before they met. There was just a different feel about the way he said those things.
Tony was never without a movie quote or storyline or scene or cinematic reference to apply to every situation. Dayne talked in unintentional song titles and it always made her laugh that he didn't realize what he was saying until she pointed it out. Which just gave him an excuse to sing to her, something Dayne did often when he wanted to hold her close and dance around the room after Siah was asleep. Speaking of their son, Tony always called Siah 'little man', ever since the first time the baby boy was placed in his arms. Dayne, from the moment he met Siah, dubbed him 'buddy'. It was rare for Tony to use her whole name once they were married, to him she was always 'Zi'. Dayne never tried to shorten her name, perhaps afraid of stepping on any old memories. All these things went through her head in an instant, before she even lifted her eyes to his.
When Ziva looked up and he couldn't read the emotion in her eyes, Dayne's stomach clenched. That was bad. Immediately he went over and knelt before her, taking her hands in his. "I'm here honey. What is it?"
She stared into his eyes, not sure where to begin. "I have to tell you something."
Dayne brushed back her hair. "You know you don't have to tell me anything Ziva, I will love you with or without the details."
Ziva's smile was brief. "This I think you will want to know."
"Okay." His eyes never left hers as he waited until she was ready.
She sighed. "I am pregnant."
Dayne's eyes widened. "Pregnant?" That was something he hadn't expected. "I thought-"
Ziva nodded. "It came as a shock to me as well. They told me today when I went into the doctor's office to drop off a copy of Siah's adoption papers so they could update their records. I had such a difficult time getting pregnant with Siah, I did not think it could happen again." After Somalia, many things about her body had changed.
He moved to sit beside her, keeping his hands around hers. "It wasn't exactly in our plans, huh?"
She pulled one hand free to rub her eyes. "Especially not after only five months." His reaction troubled her. They had never talked about having a child of their own, content with the family they had. Dayne loved Siah like he was his real father, even if in the eyes of the law he was now anyways. She just hoped he would not make her choose.
They were silent for awhile, each lost in their own separate thoughts, before Dayne spoke. "You love me, right?"
Fear gripped Ziva's heart. Not an ultimatum, please. If he suggested she end the pregnancy or said he'd rather not go through with it, he was not the man she'd fallen in love with and married several months ago. "Yes," she said slowly.
"Say it," Dayne requested. Sometimes he just needed to hear the words, even if he knew how she felt.
She swallowed. "I love you Dayne."
He nodded. "And I love you. And Siah. A baby will just add to that love." Dayne leaned closer and whispered in her ear. "I'm thrilled to be having a child with you Ziva."
"Really?" she asked, having not expected that. "I thought maybe..." She trailed off but one look in her eyes and Dayne understood. He took her face in his hands.
"Ziva, I would never ask you do to something like that. I would never make you choose between your children and me, never use my love to force a decision, especially one with consequences like that." He shrugged. "I admit that I'm surprised sweetheart, but I love you, so really this can only be good news."
Relief flooded Ziva and she sagged against him. "Thank you," she whispered.
He kissed her temple, her cheek, then her lips. "Do you know how far along you are?"
Ziva shook her head. "I think I am only just pregnant. A blood test will show it far faster than a home one."
Dayne held her close, letting the news sink in. "Do you want to tell Siah?"
Thinking about it, Ziva shook her head. "Not right now. Maybe by Christmas. I can probably hide it no longer than four months."
Dayne chuckled. "We kind of excel at big presents. Last year he got a dad, this year a sibling."
"I will have to tell Gibbs right away though," Ziva continued, her hand automatically falling to her lower abdomen, "I cannot be in the field any more."
"Mmm," Dayne knew Ziva didn't do well behind a desk. "That's a good idea. Wouldn't want to risk anything happening to either of you."
Finally free now to be happy, to be excited now that her husband knew and was okay with it, Ziva smiled. "We are going to have a baby Dayne."
He kissed her. "Yeah, and it's going to be awesome."
Christmas morning came at the Cole household and although Ziva smiled and laughed and hugged both her men at all the right moments, Dayne could still read the tension in her body language. She worked very hard to keep her hands from straying to her abdomen, not that the gesture would mean anything to her son, but it was a precaution none the less. Finally, once wrapping paper was scattered hither and yon around the livingroom by Jake's enthusiastic tail wagging, everyone had been appropriately thanked for the thoughtful gifts, and Siah had calmed down enough to simply cuddle the puppy that rested in his lap - part present and part bribe, not that he knew that - instead of dancing around the room whooping with excitement, Ziva finally got his attention.
"Siah? Dad and I have something to tell you."
He looked up, with stars still in his eyes because of the ball of fur he held and an early start on Christmas candy. "Is it about my puppy?
Dayne chuckled. "No, this is a little bigger than a puppy buddy."
The boy's face screwed up like he couldn't imagine anything that would top a new pet and Ziva continued, reaching for her husband's hand. "I am pregnant Siah. We are having a baby."
Siah made a face. "A baby? What do we need one of those for?"
Dayne laughed. "Well, I guess we don't really need one, but this one is coming anyways. And he or she is going to be pretty lucky to have you for a big brother."
Siah bit his lip, not quite sure what to think about the news. "Do I have to share my puppy?"
Ziva and Dayne exchanged glances. Hers was clearly reminiscent of 'I told you so', reminding him that she'd suggested giving Siah the puppy after their announcement, but Dayne couldn't wait that long. Ziva smiled. "I think it would be nice if you let the baby play with your puppy when he or she gets older, but no Siah, that puppy belongs to you. Perhaps though, you would consider sharing Jake?"
He thought about that one for a moment and nodded. "Yeah, I can share Jake. I don't want him to get lonely now and think I love my puppy more than him. He was my dog first." Siah looked at Dayne. "Well, I guess he was Dad's dog first, then mine. But I still love him." Thoughts continued to run through his head and finally he glanced between them. "Will you love the baby more than me because he's new?"
That got Ziva off the couch to sit beside her son, one arm around him and one resting on the golden retriever puppy who was snuggled into Siah's bathrobe and fast asleep. "No tatelah," she said firmly, stroking his curls, "we could never love any child more than we love you. But we will love this baby just as much because he or she is ours too."
He still seemed uncertain, so Dayne joined them. "It's just like what you said about Jake and the puppy. You love them both, not one more than the other. Moms and dads have enough love to share with all their kids, they don't keep it just for one or the other."
Siah nodded slowly. "Okay. I guess we can have a baby. Is he going to be loud?"
"Sometimes," Ziva conceded. "When the baby is hungry or needs to be changed or held there will be crying so we know he needs something. But it will not be loud all the time."
The boy shrugged and picked up his puppy before standing. "Good. Come on Jake, let's take the puppy to my room and find a name."
They watched him got and Dayne offered his hand to help his wife up. "I think that went pretty well."
Ziva's eyes followed her son up the stairs. "We will see what happens in a couple days when the news has time to sink in. The stories he hears from kids at school may make him want to take back his answer."
Dayne wrapped his arm around her. "Nah, we've got a good kid here Ziva, I think he'll be just fine."
"Yes," she smiled, "perhaps you are right." Every change took some getting used to, but as long as Siah had their love Ziva was pretty sure this one would not be as difficult as she'd originally thought.
Epilogue - June 2024
Three days after his second Father's Day Dayne sat in a hospital room holding his newborn daughter. "Evany Amira Cole," he whispered, running a finger over her downy hair and adjusting his hold on her. He glanced at his wife sleeping peacefully in the bed, exhausted from thirteen hours of labour. Whoever said the second one is easier was wrong, she'd reported grumpily earlier between contractions. It hadn't been appropriate to laugh then and now the memory just made him smile.
The baby stirred and he lifted Evany up so he could kiss her forehead. "Hey there munchkin, what do you think of life on the outside so far, huh? It's not that bad, right. Lots of warm blankets, a mommy and daddy who love holding you, oh, and your brother's coming later. I can't wait for the two of you to meet. He's a good boy Ev and he's going to be a great big brother, just you wait." Dayne worked his finger into her hand. "But for now I get you all to myself, so I think I'll just enjoy it a little big longer."
A couple hours later when it was closer to a normal time of the morning, Dayne stood in the waiting room anxiously anticipating the arrival of his son. The boy burst into the room seconds later with Gibbs on his heels and Dayne wrapped him in a bear hug. "Ready to meet your sister buddy?"
Siah held up the lamb his grandfather had helped him pick out and nodded. Leading the way to Ziva's room, he cautioned Siah to be gentle with his mom and then let him loose to hug her. Ziva held her son close and breathed in his scent. Her eyes were shining as she gestured for Dayne to get the baby. "This is Evany," she told him. "Would you like to hold her?"
His eyes widened. "She's kinda little, what if she breaks?"
Dayne chuckled. "No worries about that sport, we trust you."
Not appearing convinced, the young boy sat in the chair by his mom's bed and she showed him how to put his arms. Dayne lowered the infant into his hold and watched the wonder cross his face. "Hi Anny," he said, looking at her. "I'm Siah." A proud grin spread over his lips. "I'm your big brother." Siah reached for the lamb by his side and put it right in front of Evany's eyes. "And this is Shep, he's a baby lamb, just like you're a baby person. I think you'll like him. He's nice and soft, and he won't mind if you chew on his ears." Evany's eyes slid shut and Siah looked at her with an expression that could almost be called tender. "Okay, well I'll just keep him for you until you're awake, okay? And when you come home, you can meet Jake and Riley. He's my dog, but Jake is ours and you can share him, okay? I think they're gonna like you." He leaned down to kiss her forehead and both parents had trouble keeping the tears at bay as they observed the tender moment between brother and sister.
Ziva watched Dayne crouch beside the chair and took in her family. Eight and a half years ago she had been shattered by Tony's death. Four years ago she hadn't been sure she could find the strength to open herself up to love again. But three years ago she made a choice and now, looking with tears at the reward her decision had become, Ziva was so thankful because she knew she would not be alone or without love, never again.
Tali (NA 4) - Hi! lol...I'm impressed, your English is way better than my French. I usually get lost after 'hi' and 'my name is...' :P I'm glad you liked the chapter. I know, everyone's having a hard time keeping up with the pace but this was the way the story wrote itself, not leaving a whole lot of time to slow down and get used to all the changes. You're welcome :) lol...I'm looking soo forward to tomorrow so I can start posting some happy T&Z stuff. Thanks for reviewing! :)
Sarah (NA 4) - You're welcome :) Thanks, glad you liked it. I know, a lot of people aren't really on board with Dayne adopting Siah, but although he's doing it for love and to truly make them a family, there's also the practical aspect of it - if anything were to happen to Z, I would hate for Eli to think he could get custody of his grandson. Dayne needs to be his legal guardian for a 'just in case' scenario. I'm glad Z not telling Dayne about everything makes sense, she really doesn't ever want to get into the past, like she's rather forget it ever happened, which I can understand. thanks for reviewing! :)