No, I haven't forgotten about my stories, and no, I haven't abandoned anything. I've been super busy with summer classes and working. After summer classes are done, things will go back to normal.
Of course, I couldn't help myself. It was, after all, Father's day.
She hears the quiet hum of a movie's end credits drift down the hall towards her as she closes the door with a soft thud. Carefully toeing off her shoes in the dimly lit hall, she waits for her eyes to adjust before making her way further into the house. The sun had begun to set just as she made her way home, and her smirk grows with each step she takes, for the lack of lighting and sign of life suggest that the residents of the house had not vacated the room she'd last seen them in earlier that day. She makes her way there now, the hum of what she knows to be a cinematic classic growing louder in her ears.
Her suspicions are confirmed as she approaches the threshold of the living room, finding both father and daughter snuggled in the same position on the couch as she'd left them in. A soft glow permeates the room, cast from the small lamp that rests besides the couch near her partner. Her eyes drift to the coffee table before the pair, where two empty juice boxes lay, along with an empty bowl that the room's lingering aroma suggests held popcorn in the recent hours, as well as a discarded smart phone. Her gaze travels to the television screen as the last detonating note ends, and the screen fades to black. The menu appears briefly for the title screen, but it's quickly zapped away, and the screen goes blank once more.
She turns her head in the direction of the couch just as her partner stretches to set the remote down on the table, careful not to jostle the sleeping girl that rests beside him. His free hand returns to softly rubbing the little feet affectionately that have ended up in his lap, and finally meets her gaze. His bright smile lights his features in the face of her arrival, and with his free hand, he motions for her to join them on the little space left beside him.
"How was your dinner?"
She reaches the couch, sitting down and sinking back into the cushions as she toes a juice box out of the way to prop her feet up atop the table. He leans back with her, winding his arm behind her and effectively pulling her closer to him. She turns her head toward him, brushing a kiss across the warm skin of his neck.
"It was nice," She murmurs sincerely, attempting to remain quiet, and he feels her smile against him as she recalls her evening. "I made him my lasagna that he likes."
Her partner rolls his eyes and groans in exaggeration.
"How long have you been doing these Father's Day dinners? You would think he'd want something different for dinner by now."
She pokes him lightly in his side, earning a high yelp in response, and she smiles in satisfaction before soothing the jab with her soft touch.
"It makes him happy, Tony." She chastises, ghosting her fingers up and down his side. "And I am more than happy to make it for him, seeing as he does not complain about how it is not the way Nonna Dinozzo would make it."
Tony heaves a sigh before adopting the air of somebody who considers authentic Italian food superior to all others.
"I've told you, sweetcheeks, It's not your fault. Italian food simply can't be replicated."
She hums in response, biting her tongue and continuing on.
"Well, he enjoyed it, and was pleased I made enough for leftovers." She smiles to herself for several moments, before casting a cautious glance to be sure the little girl was still sound asleep. Once confirmed, she continues, tone much more hushed. "He's almost finished building her playset, did you know? You may have to help him with the roof, though, if it will be finished in time for her birthday next week."
Tony turns his head, trying to glance at her face that she's tucked underneath his chin.
"It has a roof?" He whispers excitedly.
Ziva rolls her eyes good-naturedly at his childlike enthusiasm, a smile pulling at her mouth.
"Yes, for the little, uhm, what is it that you call it? A treehouse?"
"There's a treehouse?" His voice rises, and their daughter stirs beside them briefly at the volume of his tone. She shushes him with a glare, and they wait hesitantly until it appears she will continue to rest on. They relax, and she returns to resting her head under his neck.
"Yes," she sighs contently, her hand resuming it's trail up and down his side. "Or a look-out. I do not know, it has a window. And a ladder."
Tony leans back against the couch once again, laughing softly.
"She's one lucky munchkin," he murmurs, "Good thing I got my day of affection today. Grandpa is gonna be her new favorite this time next week."
Ziva laughs along with him, knowing he meant it as seriously as it sounded. Her hand drifts to where his still rests on their daughter, and she caresses his hand gently.
"She was very excited to spend today watching movies with you. She spent all morning picking them out. Did you like her card?"
She glances up to look at him, and the adoration that radiates from him as he looks down at their daughter brings a lump to her throat and makes her eyes ache.
He grins widely as he turns his gaze toward her, and his eyes are shining with affection.
"Yeah… . Yeah, I loved it." He laughs, casting a gaze toward the floor, and she follows it, finding the brightly colored card resting next to his work laptop. "Don't know how you managed to clean up all the glitter and paint, though."
She grunts in acknowledgement; the residual smell of her Dawn kitchen soap still lingers in her nose.
"It took half the bottle of soap," She recalls, but her tone isn't regretful.
He laughs, stroking the little girl's cheek tenderly.
"All in a day's work of an almost three year old." She chuckles in agreement, watching as her partner brushes her wild, inherited curls from her peaceful face.
"I can't believe she's going to be three," He whispers in disbelief, and she smiles sadly in acknowledgement. "She's getting so big, Ziva."
Ziva snuggles closer, tapping his hand softly with her finger.
"You will always be her Daddy, Tony." She grasps his fingers tightly before reaching up to slide her hand over his heart. "She adores the ground you walk on. That will never change."
Instead of the smile she expects to see light up his face, anxiety instead pulls at his features. He's quiet for several moments, and she waits him out as he works out how to say what has him quite so drawn and serious.
"I know it's not that way with her, Ziva." He murmurs finally, hesitant. "It's different. But I look at our relationships with our fathers and I just hope … I want better for her."
She watches him brush his thumb against the curve of their daughter's cheek, and the reflexive smile that appears at the touch. Tony's face melts at the response, and Ziva fights back tears that sting at her eyes.
"Tony," she begins, tearing her eyes away from his actions, and her tone commands his attention fully. She narrows her eyes when he meets her stare, and Ziva increases the pressure of her hand on his chest. "It will be different. It is different. The way you look at her, at me…" She falters, and shakes her head to clear her thoughts. "You have all of the love she will ever need." He hears what she doesn't say; the love that her and their daughter will ever need. Her words reassure him more than her intensity alone would have. He finally smiles at her, and she leans forward to kiss him indulgently for several moments.
"Happy Father's Day, Tony." She murmurs between each kiss. "You will have many more to come."
Tony smiles against her lips, and rests his forehead against hers briefly before a soft sigh comes from their daughter, and he pulls away to accommodate the little girl that finally stirs, and snuggles herself comfortably into his lap.