Disclaimer: I don't own it. Dammit…
"So do you like to be called Ben or Benjamin?" Tony asked late one evening as he brought a bowl of popcorn, a Hawaiian Punch juice box, and a cup of coca cola. Benjamin was sitting on Ziva's couch, staring at the TV where Tony had put The Lion King in her DVD player and it played the main menu screen.
Benjamin looked up at him as his caretaker eased onto the couch beside him, taking the proffered juice box and popcorn bowl. "I used to like to be called Benjamin, but now I kind of like Ben." The boy waited a beat. "So I like Ben."
Tony nodded, taking a swig of his beer. "Okay, Ben. Ready for some fun filled adventure with Simba?" He asked, excitedly and very much like Benjamin, or now Ben.
"Yay!" Ben exclaimed as Tony pressed the Play button on the remote.
About halfway into the movie, neither heard a knock or the sound of a key unlocking the door. Ziva was about to chide them for ignoring her when she found both of them passed out on the couch. Tony was lying in an upright position with his feet propped up on the coffee table while Ben lay on the couch, stomach first, curled up in a fetal position with his head propped up on Tony's lap. Tony's hand had subconsciously settled on Ben's back. She now thought the scene was too cute to disturb.
Ziva set her backpack by the door on her way to the kitchen to grab a drink. Glancing at the stove clock, she noted that it was a little after nine pm. She decided to let them sleep for a little longer so that she could have something to eat in peace. After today, she needed a little quiet time.
Nearly two weeks have passed since that meeting in MTAC and the team were busy with a case – their last one before they left. Ben was now enrolled at George Washington Academy, an advanced private school not far from the Navy Yard. Unfortunately, he needed a tutor to get him up to speed on Americanisms. Although he knew how to read and write English, he was still having trouble with everything else. That was to be expected from someone who'd just arrived in America as a child. Both Ziva and Tony were certain that he'd catch on pretty quick.
After rooting in the cabinets and discovered nothing that called out to her, she ventured to the fridge and found leftover cheese pizza. I guess this'll do. She thought as she grabbed the box to pull it out. With her free hand, she grabbed a coca cola can and shut the door, turning to place the box on the counter and refill her empty glass cup. She forewent a plate and simply went to the dinner table with the box and cup in both hands.
As soon as she set the box on the table and sat down in the chair directly in front of the box, she immediately grabbed a slice. Ziva glanced back at the boys, chewing rather quickly on the slice almost like a starved animal would. She ate a total of two before closing the box and cleaning up. Her halfway drank cup remained on the table while she replaced the box in the fridge and cleaned up the remnants of cold pizza.
Finally, with dinner finished, she sighed and wiped her hands before grabbing the cup, downing the rest and quickly washing it before setting it in the dish drain. Feeling satisfied, she then turned her attention to the two sleeping boys, smiling briefly at the cuteness.
Sneaking up beside Tony, she smirked mischievously before tapping her partner's shoulder lightly at first and then later harder. After a few minutes, he startled awake, finding a smirking Ziva. "Hey, Zi, you're home." He said groggily, his voice still lingering with sleep. "When did you get home?"
"Thirty minutes ago. Figured I eat before waking you." She explained, shrugging. "That, plus I was starving."
Tony smiled before looking down at the sleeping boy, strategically extracting himself so as to not wake Ben. He leaned forward, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. "Oh, by the way, our boy likes to be called Ben." He informed her.
"Oh really?" Ziva rose, liking the sound of our. She chastised herself for that little thought. "When did this start?"
"I asked him earlier just before we started watching The Lion King." Tony answered, getting up as well and picking up the remote to turn it off. He turned to his left and bent down to easily pick him up. She led him to Ben's room where they shared the responsibility of getting him settled under the covers.
They both walked out of the room rather quietly and quickly, leaving the door slightly opened. Tony stretched his arms above his head, popping his back and associating bones and muscles. He groaned as he lowered his arms.
"Remind me not to sleep in that position again." Tony commented in a whispering tone.
"I thought it was a rather cute scene." Ziva admitted, smiling as they entered into the living room. The smile died down when she noticed Tony looking serious. "What is the matter, Tony?" She grew concerned.
Tony ran a hand through his hair. "I'm worried that once we get over there, we'll never return to the US, to our family. I mean this war is huge and what Eli asked of not only me but all of us will take a lot out of us. I don't want to come home to Ben with PTSD, to not be normal again." He began to ramble. "I mean, I know I made the decision to complete this mission, but maybe it was the wrong decision – at least for me – because we all know if anyone were to go to war, I probably would be one of the last people. What has gotten into me?" He paced during his ramble.
Ziva let him ramble for a few minutes. She knew it hadn't been an easy decision on his part, and something he'd allowed his emotional side to answer. It was only natural for him to rethink this obligation he would carry out. She stepped in his tracks, taking her hands into his and stilling his movements. Catching his eyes, she spoke sincerely. "Tony, Tony, relax. It is okay if you do not want to do this. You owe nothing to my father, especially after the way he has treated you. Our team can pull out. My cousin would not hate any of us for it." She reassured. They moved to the couch. "Why are you so determined to follow this through?"
Tony took a deep breath and let it out slowly, never wavering his eyes from Ziva. "For you and Ben." He repeated those words, like he was reaffirming what he was doing.
Ziva shouldn't have been shocked, but his admission did. For some reason whenever he said those words or saw the sincerity in his hazel green eyes, it made her have butterflies. She blinked and shook her head, squashing the feeling down. Ziva did feel touched, though. "Thank you, but if–"
"You don't have to thank me, Ziva." Tony interrupted, bolting out of his seat and moving to the doorframe between the kitchen and living room. "I care about you guys and would do it regardless. I'm doing this to ensure yours and Ben's safety whenever you return to Israel for a visit. You said it yourself that Israel was a country full of war and devastation." She gave him a look. "Okay, maybe not in those words, but still. "Let me make Israel a peaceful country, like America, where Ben can go play in the dirt without worry that he's next to a bomb."
She stood. "That is why he is here, Tony. That is one reason why I became an American citizen, so that my children would not worry about where they stepped or afraid that someone would just randomly shoot them if they looked at them the wrong way or walked in their direction." She teared up. "I do not want our family to step on Israeli soil, to be put in that situation. The middle East nations do not ask questions first; they simply shoot and may ask questions later if you survive. It is dangerous."
In midst of this conversation, they've let a lot of things out that both had kept to themselves. As Ziva and Tony looked at one another, each knew what the other was thinking: it was worth the risk if it meant Ben could visit Israel without fearing for his life.
Tony closed the gap between them, pulling her in for a tight, reassuring hug. "I'm going, Ziva." He said, kissing her head. "I'm doing this for you and Ben."