Disclaimer: I don't remember what I'm supposed to disclaim ... oh, let me keep my big pot of lies, okay? (No, but really, I don't own NCIS. See that, TPTB?)
Spoilers: 10x07 "Shell Shock (Part 2)"
Also, I hope this isn't too weird. The Tiva moments were perfect, and I don't want to ruin them in this fic *twitches*...
Ahem. On with it! Enjoy; please review!
P.S. I don't remember if Gibbs' house actually has a porch with a wooden railing around it, but for the purposes of this fic, let's pretend it does!
An hour and a half into the Thanksgiving dinner, he was beginning to think that she wouldn't show.
Food had already been served, and everyone was seated at the dining table and engaged in animated conversation; Tony fidgeted in his place, though, trying not to be too obvious about glancing constantly at the front door.
He'd hoped she'd turn up, even if he understood the importance of remembering a lost family member—he had on more than one occasion left work early so that he could spend more time at his mother's grave on the anniversary of her death, after all. Still, the team, too, was 'family' to them, and he'd wished for her to see the lighter, warmer, and happier side of her life. She was an American now; celebrating Thanksgiving with loved ones seemed only customary.
He sighed and stuck his fork into a spud. He would never hold her responsible for not showing up, but that didn't mean he didn't miss her presence at the dinner table terribly.
A click at the front door just then made everyone fall silent, and they watched as it swung open to admit the petite, brown-haired woman. Ziva shut the door after herself and approached hesitantly, as if unsure of her place at the table.
"Um, I had something I needed to do," she offered by way of a very awkward, Ziva-esque apology, and Tony could see her tense shoulders relax a fraction when Gibbs just smiled.
"More than enough for you too, Ziver," the older man said, nodding his head towards the food-laden table, and the newest member of their family breathed out deeply. She drew out a chair and sat down, still looking surprisingly self-conscious until McGee looked at Ducky and asked, "So what happened to the thief that stole Mrs Mallard's turkey?"
He found her on the porch after dinner, her hands on the dusty wooden railing as she tilted her head back and watched the vast, star-lit sky.
"Hey," he murmured softly so as to not disturb the peaceful moment, and even though she did not turn to him as he walked to her, he could see a smile grow on her face.
"Thank you for tonight, Tony," she answered, her voice as soft and low as his.
"You're welcome." He stood beside her and put his hands on the railing, barely millimetres from hers. "Just … you know. I hope it made things better."
"It did." Her eyes met his just then, the brown depths swirling with something that warmed him. "In all honesty, I had not—ever—thought of remembering her in so … simple a manner, and … you helped me get my Tali back, Tony. Thank you."
"You already said that," he reminded her with just a hint of teasing, and her faint blush broke the moment that was becoming almost unbearably intimate. She returned to watching the sky; he exhaled and turned his face towards the stars, too. "What was she like?"
He heard a snuffle beside him, as if Ziva were laughing through her tears. "She was … vibrant."
"Oh, yes. She was different from the rest of us. I mean, she was raised in a Mossad household, too, so Tali was no more naïve than I was. But … that didn't matter to her. Perhaps it was something she had inherited from our mother—the stubborn will. Tali had seen just as much death and destruction as I had, but she was very determined to look past it."
"She sounds incredible."
Ziva nodded, her eyes glimmering even as she smiled. "She was not very happy when I joined Mossad. I thought I lost her then, because we had already spent years growing apart by that point. Teenage siblings, you know. But then, on the morning of my first day of work, she said to me, 'Do what you do to keep us alive, and I'll do what I can to give us a reason to live.' And that was Tali. She was the kind of person you lived for."
He stayed silent and waited as Ziva rubbed a quick hand across her eyes. "So, I took her advice to heart," his partner concluded.
He hummed softly and laid a hand on her shoulder; she took the gesture of sympathy for what it was and sighed as she leant into his touch. Her simple act of trust caused his heart to flutter madly.
Brushing a thumb across her bare arm, he murmured, "Hey, Zi?"
He hesitated, wondering if what he wanted to say was just a little too strange and personal to be voiced.
But her face turned towards his and her eyes seemed to study him, as if she expected his words to be of the utmost importance, and he stammered, "I hope you still have a reason to live right now."
She looked away and fell utterly still then.
Yet, just before he could lift his hand from her shoulder and step back to give her space, she raised her hand to lay it on top of his. She gave him the lightest squeeze, and in her gesture he could hear the affirmation of his wishes. I do.
Abby's joyful laughter spilt out of the house just then, bringing with it the laughter of the others. Tony and Ziva both turned back to see, through the lit window, their hodgepodge stand-in family gathered in the living room and revelling in what would undoubtedly be one of Ducky's funnier tales.
Ziva beamed for the first time that evening.
"I think it is time we got back to them," she told him as she took his hand in hers, and he agreed.