Here's the next chapter. I'm not particularly happy with this chapter, but I wanted to give the readers something.
Thanks to all who reviewed and feedback! It keeps me motivated!
Insert standard disclaimer
There were a few lights on in the Gibbs Residence as Tony made his way into his boss' house. As normal, Gibbs was in the basement, working on what appeared to be a new project. Tony got halfway down the stairs before stopping and bending over to see Gibbs work.
"Are you going to come down or just keep lurking, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked, fiddling with one of his hand tools.
Having been caught, Tony was forced to finish walking downstairs. "Hey, Boss."
Gibbs merely grunted his greeting, leaving Tony not surprised. "What're you doing here, Tony?"
"I need advice." He admitted, walking over to the workbench and picking up two cups. He turned to face his boss. This seemed like déjà vu. It was only a matter of a year ago when Tony had been; it seemed, at this particular stage in his life. Once again, he was at a crossroad between having a family and work.
"Okay." Gibbs said, uncertain to where his SFA was going with this "needed" advice. He set his tool on the bench and dragged a stool over, plopping down on it, facing Tony. "What can I help you with?"
Tony lifted one cup. "Family." He said, lowering that cup and raising the other. "Work."
"Yeah. And?" Gibbs' eyebrow raised in a questioning expression, not understanding what Tony was getting at. "Where are you going with this?"
"I'm nervous about this, Gibbs." Tony said, looking at both cups before setting both back where they were and fixing his eyes on Gibbs' mystery project.
Gibbs glared daggers into the younger man, hoping he'd get to the point fast. His project was on a deadline. Gibbs took a chill pill when he noticed Tony's scared eyes. "What really happened in Israel, Tony?" He grew concern and now thought Tony's worries took precedence over his secret project.
Tony looked down at the concrete floor before finally locking onto Gibbs' eyes. "Ziva and I became replacement parents, and I was asked to finish what Eli and Arash started. I agreed, and now I've been dubbed as the David Family protector - at least until Benjamin is old enough." He pulled out a folded up envelope with his name on it. "It's all written in there." Tony said as he held it out for Gibbs to take, which the older man did. Tony sighed heavily. "What the hell am I doing? I don't have the greatest example of a father. Yet from the moment I met the kid, it was like I became determined to protect him at all costs; but now…"
"You're having second thoughts?" Gibbs supplied.
"No. I'm scared I'll make a mistake in parenting." Tony corrected, getting up from his own stool and fingering the pieces of wood on the makeshift table.
He needs reassurance. Gibbs deduced. "You'll be fine, Tony. Every parent makes mistakes along the way. Lord knows, I did; but we can learn from them and move on. He's a lucky little guy to have Ziva and you. His sister is trained in martial arts, and you're good with guns. All girlfriends or boyfriends – depending on his preference when he's older – will have a lot to go through just to date him. Plus, all of us are pretty good at covering the bases you two can't cover." Gibbs explained. He placed a reassuring hand on Tony's shoulder as he stood up. "You'll do." But then, his demeanor changed. "Did you two–"
"No!" Tony firmly answered, knowing exactly where his boss was headed. "I promise you that Ziva and I haven't broken Rule 12." Tony hoped to God that Gibbs would believe him. He knew everything already was complicated enough that he really didn't need to throw in Rule 12 to complicate it further. Tony certainly hadn't tossed that idea out of his head. "But I'm sure at times it will seem like it. Go ahead and slap me, Boss. You know you want to."
And that was exactly what Gibbs done, causing Tony to hiss and close his eyes. "That's a warning, DiNozzo."
"Okay. Understood, Boss." Tony said as he rubbed his head. "I'll remember that."
"I'm sure it won't be your last one." Gibbs picked up a hand tool. He took a good luck at his SFA. "Is there something else you're not tellin' me?"
"I'd like to ask you to join my quest in Operation Gumball." Tony stated. When Gibbs started to go back to his project with a sander, Tony tried to convince him. "It'll be worth it, Boss. We'd be making peace on it. Benjamin could live life with fear, and we'd get the benefit of being a kick ass rogue team. It'd be similar to Gangster Squad." He began to sound rather excited.
"Is that the movie with the cops who go rogue as they try to break apart that big time gangster's reign?" Gibbs asked to which Tony nodded enthusiastically.
"How'd you know about it?" Tony wondered.
Gibbs tipped his head upward to the ceiling, indicating the other occupant in the Gibbs household. "Abby."
Tony slowly nodded, understandingly. Abby had moved into Gibbs' house about a week ago after she'd discovered her landlord's unwillingness to fix the problems with her apartment and thus they ended up in a fight. She was staying with Gibbs until she found another apartment that had both of their approval. Apparently, Gibbs' approval meant a lot to Abby because everyone knew Gibbs wasn't about to let her live in an unsafe neighborhood.
"She still wants to go with you when you're able to." Gibbs let him know as he started sanding.
"I'll definitely take her." Tony said, looking down at his watch. "Oh shit. I better get home. Got a lot of stuff to do."
"Okay." Gibbs said as he looked up at Tony, who started for the stairs. "See you in a few days, DiNozzo."
"Yep." Tony said as he left.
Ziva was in a light sleep. It felt strange not to have Tony sleeping next to her, but she knew he was at his apartment, most likely asleep. She missed his warmth, his scent in general, knowing he wasn't too far away if she needed him. Now, he was on the opposite side of the city.
It amazed her just how they seemed to slide into a comfortable routine within a week. She'd been even more amazed how Tony – who had been vehemently convince he was afraid of kids – seemed to slip in the natural father role. It had convinced her that he would definitely be a good parent. He could be so childish yet serious at different times. It actually made her want to have kids with him, if they ever got to that point. Right now, that was merely wishful thinking.
"Ziva?" Benjamin's broken and scared sounding voice interrupted her thoughts.
She turned to her other side to face the doorway. Benjamin was standing there, sniffling and vehemently wiping his quiet tears away with the hand not occupied with his little stuffed animal that Tony had bought him back in Israel just before they boarded the plane. "What's the matter, Benjamin? Are you okay?" She opened her arms. "Come here." She said in a soft, concerned voice.
He immediately launched into her awaiting arms. "I had a bad dream." He informed as she scooted back to make room for him. Benjamin settled beside her as she pulled the cover him and held him, trying to calm him by playing with his sweat-ridden hair. "Don't let the monsters get me."
"I won't." She promised. "I'll protect you, tateleh. Don't you worry." He yawned, closing his eyes. She started singing a Hebrew lullaby that her mother used to sing to her whenever she was little and suffered from bad dreams. It was meant to be soothing and had done wonders for her and her sister. About fifteen minutes in, she heard Benjamin's soft snores and smiled, feeling a little accomplished that she managed to coax him back to sleep.
Tony lay in his bed, hands behind his head while staring up at the wall. Other than the normal sounds in the apartment, it was quiet and mostly dark. He'd left the stove light and a bathroom nightlight on.
Like Ziva, he'd gotten used to sharing a bed with someone. It felt like something was missing. He missed her and her little brother, who curled up next to him while they watched a movie during the plane ride.
Tony scoffed, smiling as he reminisced on Benjamin's first plane ride. The boy had been in awe on the size of the vehicle that would take him to his new home. As they moved along, Benjamin would point at random things and asked questions to which either he or Ziva would answer. Okay, maybe, mostly Tony would answer the questions as Ziva navigated them through the sea of people. As they went to the terminal, Benjamin could hardly contain himself as he started to really check things out. When he would start to wander off too far, Ziva would call after him, steering him back to his new guardians. Then as they actually boarded the plane, he got all excited as Tony and Ziva looked for their seats. It had been refreshing to see Benjamin actually display his age, letting his intelligent brain rest while the child part of his brain came out to play.
Tony yawned before finally deciding he wasn't going to get any sleep any time soon. He got up out of bed, quickly making the bed and going to his tall dresser to find clothes to wear for the day. He and Ziva had decided to take Benjamin on a tour of the city and get him familiar with his new surroundings. They also were considering which school Benjamin would attend.
After deciding he couldn't go wrong with jeans and a T-shirt, he quickly jumped in the shower and got ready for the day. Once he was finished with that task, he went into the kitchen to browse the cupboards and fridge.
Out of nowhere came a knock on his apartment door. Tony stared at the door before checking the time, which was 06:34 Hours. Who the hell would be knocking at this hour? Then, he closed the door and went to answer it, flipping the light on.
It was Ziva, who was carrying a sleeping Benjamin.
"Ziva?" Tony said, confused. "What's the matter?" He stepped back to let them in. "Here, you can put him on the sofa." Tony went to the small linen closet in the hall and retrieved a pillow and blanket, returning to get the little boy comfortable.
"Nothing is wrong. I just...needed you nearby." She admitted.
Tony produced a 100-watt smile. "Awww. You missed me." He was flattered. She merely smiled.
"I cannot explain it." Ziva said. Have you met your soul mate, miss? You will know the minute you do. The woman from three years ago came floating back in her mind. She looked over at Tony, who was looking at Benjamin. Tony had sat down next to Benjamin and was now rubbing the boy's back in a soothing way. Ziva just stood by his TV in la-la land. Maybe he is my soul mate. Is that what Yahweh is trying to tell me? She felt an epiphany occur as the realization of just who Tony is really to her formulated in her mind. He is.
"What's wrong?" Tony asked, furrowing his eyebrows at her mesmerized expression. Ziva shook her head. "Okay, what's that brilliant mind of yours pondering on?"
A small smile lit her features briefly before sitting down on his piano chair. "Do you remember that case a few years back with the woman who had lost her husband, only to find him married to another woman with a child? She was insistent that she and her husband were soul mates."
Tony leaned back, trying to recall the case. "The Kirkland case?"
"Ah, yeah, I remember. You asked me about soul mates in the break room." Tony recalled, nodding. "What about it?"
"I just realized what she meant by it." Ziva admitted. Tony still didn't understand where she was going with the conversation; and by the look on his face, Ziva gathered as much. "Never mind."
Tony remained looking confused before shaking it off. He looked at the time and then regarded her. "Would you want to get some more sleep? We can move Benjamin onto my bed and convert this to a pull out bed." He pointed to the sofa Benjamin slept on. "Besides, we should probably get as much sleep as we can before he wakes up. We're going to be busy."
"True." She agreed, standing up and moving over to her little brother.
Tony held up a hand as he slowly rose, slipping one hand under Benjamin's legs and the other under his chest. "I got him. I'll be right back." He padded over to his bedroom and lay the still sleeping boy on his bed, taking Tony's favorite pillow as he left. The second pillow was left for Benjamin to sleep on.
When he ventured back into the living room, he discovered Ziva had already pulled the bed out and was curled up on it, sleeping on the pillow Benjamin had been sleeping on. The blanket was covering her. Tony watched her for a few minutes, relieved that not only he'd kept a sheet on it but also that she was getting some sleep.
He flipped the light off, locked the apartment door, and crawled in the bed, falling asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow and his arm rested over her waist. She subconsciously moved closer.
I like this ending better than the one I wrote before. It took me a while to end this chapter perfectly (in my opinion). Thank God, I managed not to rush into their growing relationship (that hasn't already been shown on TV).