A/N: Music this Chapter, trust me you're going to want it if you want the 'feels'! And you can find it all for free on youtube if you don't have it! 'Let it Snow! Let it Snow!' by Dean Martin, 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' by Judy Garland, 'Holiday Flight' by John Williams from the Home Alone Soundtrack, 'Science and Religion' by Joshua Bell and Hans Zimmer from the Angels & Demons Soundtrack (-This one is such a MUST!), Never Grow Old by The Cranberries, You Got the Love(New Voyager Remix) ft. Candi Staton by The Source.
"We'll be fine. I promise." Gibbs smiled at the anxious mother before him as Liat looked at her tiny baby asleep in his arms having just passed Eden over.
Liat, Malachi, Ziva and Tony were dressed up and looking spectacular. They were going to the opera to celebrate Liat's birthday and remember Tali as Ziva had always done on this night. This year was incredibly emotional and special for both Liat and Ziva, doing this together as sisters for the first time. It was also the first time that Liat was leaving Eden for such a long time since her birth not quite a month ago. Papa Gibbs and Uncle Fornell were on babysitting duty for the whole the night.
"She's going to have a great time! It's 3:10 to Yuma night." Tony smiled widely, trying to ease the tension knowing how difficult this was on Liat seeing the tears in her eyes and trying to make her laugh. "Her first introduction to the Western Classics."
"What if she gets hungry? What if I didn't pump enough milk?" She asked in Hebrew quickly looking slightly panicked at Malachi as he tried to peel her away from their baby.
"There is plenty." Malachi smiled with a slow head nod thinking of how much of a supply that Liat had left for their baby. "She is in the best hands, My Love. It will be okay." He understood Liat's hesitancy to leave. He'd had his own very difficult time letting go when he had to return to Israel two weeks after her birth.
Malachi had only just arrived back three days ago, and this was the first chance he was having at spending some alone time with Liat, and even his heart was breaking a little at leaving their beautiful baby girl behind, even for one night. Someday soon, he would be asking Liat to marry him and they would solve their living situation once and for all, with hopefully never having to spend too many nights apart ever again. For now, they were enjoying their time together whenever they'd had it and never taking a single moment for granted.
Liat sighed with tears welling in her eyes, and a hormonal mess leaving her baby.
"I didn't know it was going to be this hard." She cried leaning forward to kiss Eden's sweet little sleeping face again and then Gibbs' cheek. "Thank you." She smiled in appreciation for his doing this.
"Happy Birthday, Sweetheart." Gibbs smiled and held her in a one armed embrace and smiling over her' shoulder at the other three behind her. "Have fun." He and Liat had developed their own bond from living together before the baby was born and she was very much, another daughter to him.
"We will." Malachi answered for her, trying to reassure Liat this would be good. He laughed softly when she kissed Eden again and then Fornell quickly, with the same thanks before finally taking his hand. He nearly had to pull her out the door in her heels and gown as she kept looking back.
The two men stood by the window waving softly to the four as they climbed inside the limo waiting outside Gibb's house and smiled.
"You think she's actually going to make it through the whole night away?" Fornell asked when they saw the car drive away.
"Nope." Gibbs smiled with a soft chuckle looking down at the sleeping angel baby in his arms. "She'll be back." He smiled shaking his head softly thinking that he'd see Liat at least once more this evening between the opera and their plans to go to a hotel for a romantic dinner just the two of them as Tony and Ziva were doing the same. "Here." Gibbs passed the baby gently to Fornell who looked wide-eyed and stunned.
"Why are you giving her to me?" Fornell asked quietly and adjusting his arms to hold her more securely as Eden's eyes were starting to flutter open, awakening from her deep slumber.
"Because I'm ordering pizza and heating a bottle. Unless you'd rather do that?" Gibbs asked with a slanted eyebrow and smile.
"Good Lord, no!" Fornell shook his head not wanting to mess that up. "The Little Lady and I will just have a nice chat." His tone changed immediately and he started speaking in exaggerated baby talk, "Won't we, you pretty little thing...I'm your Uncle Tobias and I'm the best uncle you have." He started swaying gently with a smile staring directly into her big eyes trying to focus on him. "Boy, do I have stories about your Mommy and Daddy..." He chuckled thinking about them, "And about your Aunty Ziva and Uncle Tony…and the best stories, I have are about your Papa." His devilish grin flashed up to Gibbs with a soft laugh.
"Don't do you dare," Gibbs chuckled softly shaking his head walking into the kitchen, "fill my granddaughter's head with lies, Tobias." He smiled more widely at the thought of 'his granddaughter' and laughed softly seeing Fornell still talking with exaggerated facial expressions and dancing around the living room with the baby in his arms.
Fornell dropped a kiss to Eden's head and smiled as he walked into the kitchen, "I forgot how good babies smell."
Gibbs eyebrows rose with an amused grin, "Good, I'll remember that when she needs to be changed."
*Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
"It's really coming down out there." Tony stood beside the large window with a cup of cider in his hand.
McGee was standing beside him as they watched the large white snowflakes falling through the moonlight. The heavy snow had started falling shortly after their arrival at Julia's house for her Christmas Eve celebration. Her family had just arrived back in the States after spending most of December in Sweden as was their tradition. They were having a delayed third birthday party for Lena now that everyone was gathered again and also celebrating Christmas together for the first time. Julia's family being of Scandinavian descent, had always celebrated Christmas Eve with a large gathering of family and friends, tonight was no exception.
They now all stood in cozy winter sweaters, in front of the most magical looking Christmas tree any of them had ever seen with a roaring fire going in the fireplace beside them. Tony had commented earlier, that he felt as though he'd walked into a Norman Rockwell painting at just how perfect it all was.
"I'm just so happy its snowing for Christmas!" Abby smiled widely coming up behind McGee and wrapping her arms tightly around his waist, kissing his cheek. They were all gearing up to watch their own tradition of 'It's A Wonderful Life.' "Remember last Christmas Eve?" She asked with widening eyes looking between the two of them and then around to all the faces now filling the space around them. Laughing, smiling and mingling about. "I can't believe it's only been a year. Look how much everything has changed."
Tony felt a skip in his heart when his eyes landed on his beautiful wife, heavily pregnant and absolutely radiant as she smiled talking with his father who was holding baby Jillian in his arms, and smiling and laughing with her and Katherine most likely about the baby from the way they were looking at her tiny smiling face.
A year ago, everything had been different. He and Ziva were still miles apart, his own father had chided him on never even having invited her over to his apartment; he'd tossed his father out only to learn he was trying to make amends and now, now everything was different. His family had grown considerably with new members, he smiled as he looked over at Liat holding the sweet tiny angel Eden in her arms and showing her the pretty lights on the Christmas tree, and then to Kevin who was playing with the train going around the tree with Lena and Lara both sitting in his lap. Ziva's unknown siblings then who had come into her life and helped save her and them both as well.
Abby and McGee were now a couple, as were E.J. and Asa, he smiled at them sitting together on the sofa with E.J. in Asa's lap and his whispering into her ear and making her smile. Malachi was smiling from across the room where he was getting more cider for himself and Liat, and Julia, their real life angel, was staring back at him with a quiet smile and arms wrapped around Kristoff as he leaned against her chest. She undoubtedly knew exactly what Tony was thinking as he looked around the room. Everyone was there and each had much to celebrate and look forward to as this year was coming to a close. His baby with Ziva was due any day now and his heart smiled with wild excitement at finally meeting his daughter.
"You okay?" Gibbs slid up beside Tony seeing the look of quiet reflection on his face as well.
"Never better, Boss." Tony smiled wrapping his arm around Gibbs shoulder and clinking cider cups with him. "Just thinking about what a difference a year makes." He smiled shaking his head softly.
Gibbs nodded quietly with a growing smile thinking the same thing. Their quiet gathering with just a few of them had turned into a massive 'family' gathering in home decorated to the max for Christmas in splendid glory, absolutely breathtaking and enchanting with the delighted smiles and laughter of small children playing around their feet. Literally. He laughed as Rafe crawled over to him and held onto Gibb's pant leg, staring up at him with a toothy grin. He passed his cider cup to Tony and bent over, scooping up the baby boy who was giggling madly and reaching out to palm Gibbs face.
"This poor little guy is going to be so outnumbered." Tony laughed softly making faces at Rafe and leaning in to kiss his sweet baby cheek. Rafe was the only baby boy roughly the same age as Eden, Sarai and Jillian with Lena not that much older then them.
"You ready for this, DiNozzo?" Gibbs asked quietly looking at the way Tony was interacting with the baby in his arms.
"Are you ever ready?" Tony asked with a nervous laugh and raised eyebrows.
"No, you're never ready. No matter when or how your kids come into your life. You're never ready, Tony." Gibbs smiled looking around the room to all of his kids and thinking about how each had come into his life in unexpected ways and times, chuckling softly. "Just dig in, hold on and enjoy the ride." He smiled kissing the baby's forehead in front of him as Rafe played with the knot of Gibbs tie.
*Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
"And every time a bell rings, and angel gets her wings." Zuzu the little girl in the movie smiled brightly in her father's arms hearing the bell ring as the movie finished and everyone clapped as they all sat snuggled together around Julia's large family room having just finished 'It's a Wonderful Life.'
"Tony, what are you doing?" Julia asked with narrowed eyebrows and a curious smile when he pushed her forward in the seat in front of him as everyone else watched bewildered by his actions as well.
"Just checking." Tony smiled widely with a smug grin looking up and down Julia's back.
"Checking for what?" Ziva asked slightly horrified that he just suddenly pushed Julia forward from the back of her chair, albeit gently but still shocking.
"To see if she got her wings." Tony smiled more widely and laughed along with everyone else.
"Ha! Ha! Very funny, Tony." Julia shook her head with a raging smile and deep sigh at Tony's antics once more with clear sarcasm in her tone.
"Well, I think you've certainly earned the wings this year." Tony smiled with a softened grin and smile as he wrapped his arms around Ziva when she stood, nuzzling his face into the crook of her neck from behind and smoothing his hands over their baby still safely inside Ziva's body. Without Julia's intervention and help, their little miracle would never have made it this far.
"I told you, I don't fly." Julia smiled back with a soft grin and then winked, "I levitate." She laughed softly, teasing him back and scooped up Lena who was rapidly falling asleep on the sofa beside her, worn out completely already with all of the excitement. Lena wrapped her sleepy arms around her mother's neck and held tightly with little head tucked beneath Julia's chin. "I'm so happy for the both of you." She smiled softly with sparkling eyes, touching Tony's arms lightly with one hand and then lifting it to cup Ziva's face, kissing her cheek. "I'm going to put her down for the night along with the other two." She nodded towards Rurik and Lara who were already dressed in their Christmas pajamas as were Lena and the babies. Everyone in matching red and green plaid flannel and looking adorable.
They nodded with smiles, dropping kisses to Lena's tiny head on the way by and turned into each other's arms.
"Merry Christmas, Tony." Ziva smiled pulling his head down softly to kiss him seeing they were standing under the Mistletoe.
"Merry Christmas, Mrs. DiNozzo." He smiled brushing his nose with hers.
"And to think, last year on this night, I hadn't even been to your apartment." She giggled deeply and Tony sighed shaking his head in shame.
"I know, I know. It's shocking to me now that I could have ever committed such a crime." He laughed with her quietly, lost in their' own little world. "How are you feeling?" He asked still swaying slightly with her, dancing slightly to the soft Christmas music playing in the background now that the movie was finished.
"My back still hurts." Ziva sighed and felt Tony's hands immediately move down to start massaging her aching muscles there as he had many times now the last month. "I hope she comes soon." She smiled up at him, "She's out of room and I can't possibly get any bigger." Ziva shook her head softly with a small laugh running her hands over her already very large belly.
"Maybe you should sit down?" Tony suggested worried about Ziva standing for so much of the very long day as it was.
"No, it seems to hurt more when I sit." Ziva shook her head and dug her fingers into her lower back near her hip. "It is like she is sitting right on my nerve. I'm feeling shooting pains every now and then down my leg."
"Sounds like labor." Katherine walked by with a smile and raised eyebrows having overheard the last part of Ziva and Tony's conversation where they were still standing beneath the Mistletoe.
"Already?" Ziva looked at her with wide eyes and feeling her heart picking up with speed.
"How long have you felt like this? The lower back ache and twinges in your nerves?" Katherine stopped walking and turned back towards them with a smile.
"Since early this morning I guess." Ziva's eyebrows narrowed. "I woke up feeling the cramps."
"Ooh," Annika's eyes widened as well with a soft smile, "Sounds like labor. When I went into labor with Alexa, I had no idea that is what it was either. So I worked all day and only when my water broke making dinner that night did I realize I'd actually been in labor all day."
It always made their hearts hurt a little in hearing Annika speak of Alexa or Julia speak of her children by name and feeling their loss in those seconds before they could feel the joy of the memories that were being shared.
"I agree." Katherine smiled softly nodding as well. "It was the same for me with Kelsi as she was my first. I had no idea that the backache and cramping was actually labor."
"Well how do we know for sure?" Tony was suddenly starting to panic at the thought, not prepared for this to happen tonight.
"We should start keeping track of when Ziva feels the cramp and pain shooting down her leg. They are likely contractions." Katherine reached for Ziva's hand with a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, these things usually take quite awhile."
"Unless of course, they don't." Julia re-entered the room with a raging smile and a soft laugh. "Have you forgotten how quickly my labor moved along with Lena once my water broke, Mom?" She looked at her mother who was there the night she delivered her baby in the Oval Office. "I'd been in labor all day as well without knowing but once my water broke, my energy surged and she was coming! Fast and quick!" She paused seeing the wide-eyed expression on Tony and Ziva's faces. "I think, we should start preparing to go to the hospital now. The roads are already bad and we'll need the extra time."
"Why? What do you know?" Tony asked with a gasping whisper and face paling staring at Julia's smiling face. The now, telltale twinkle in her eyes and smile that told him that she had seen something about their future.
"She's coming! She's coming!" Lara screamed with joy coming down the stairs and pulling Lena behind her with Rurik hot on their heels.
"Aren't you supposed to be sleeping all snug in your beds, with visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads?" Palmer asked smiling at the children as everyone else came to see what the commotion was about.
"Who's coming?" Ziva asked Lara feeling another back spasm and twinge down her leg.
"Sarai!" Lara squealed with a smile, "Gabriel said she's coming!"
The words had no sooner left Lara's mouth then Ziva felt the immediate rush of warm fluid run down her legs and onto the hardwood floor.
"Oh no…" Tony gasped looking down to see Ziva standing in a puddle and remembering Liat not long ago doing the same thing.
*Holiday Flight (repeat)
"I told you! She's coming!" Lara bounced with Lena in excitement, completely over going to sleep now in their joy. "He said we'd better hurry!"
Everyone froze for a moment staring at Ziva standing in the small puddle and then everyone suddenly went flying around the room.
"I'll get the coats!" McGee went running towards the hall closet.
"I'll get the kids!" Jack swooped up Lara, Rurik and Lena into his arms all at once.
"I'll get the other kids!" Annika smiled more brightly and went racing up the stairs after the babies who were already asleep in their nursery.
"I'll get the camera!" Abby went running, "Where is it?" She asked in a panic looking around the massive house and not sure who had it last.
"We'll get the cars started!" Asa and E.J. sprang into action knowing that the vehicles outside would be freezing cold by now in this weather.
"We're going to have to dig out!" Malachi looked out the window and saw how much snow had been dumped in the last several hours that was now several feet deep; not used to this sort of thing coming from the desert. "Where are the shovels?" He asked trying to rapidly put his coat on as McGee was tossing them out.
"Don't worry about it!" Jack smiled and laughed trying to wrangle Lena down to get her winter coat zipped. "She's a snow blower!" He waved in the general direction of Julia.
"I resent that comment!" Julia fired back with a smile as she tried to help Ziva into her coat and the others laughed. "Even if it's true." She chuckled shaking her head. "Are you okay?" She asked Ziva who appeared to be in slight shock that this was happening.
There wasn't time for Ziva to answer before a real contraction hit and Ziva inhaled a soft scream and cry of pain, squeezing both Julia and Tony's hands tightly with shaking knees and everyone froze again.
"Time to go!" Julia smiled in a singsong voice with everyone flying back into action again.
Bodies were everywhere and crashing into each other as everyone tried to make for the door, grabbing whatever they needed.
"My Lovie!" Lena cried as they were on their way out wanting her beloved blanket still upstairs.
"I'll get it!" Malachi was in the back and set Eden's carseat down carefully with her already buckled safely inside and tore up the stairs two at a time towards Lena's room. Within a minute he was racing back down again with the precious Lovie in hand and smiled handing it to the sweet little girl who instantly clung to his leg.
"Thank you, Uncle Mal!" She kissed his leg and giggled when he scooped her up under his arm like a football.
Liat had already picked up Eden and was on the way out, Jack with Rurik and Lara under each arm followed with Annika carrying one car seat with Rafe and Katherine the other with Jillian. Julia was trying to help Tony guide Ziva outside but they were slow moving as Ziva's labor was progressing rather quickly.
"How long have you know this was going to happen tonight?" Tony asked in a panic. "It'd have been nice to have some more warning!" He scowled at Julia, not ready for this.
"Tony!" Ziva scowled back with a hiss through clenched teeth for blaming Julia for her labor.
"I only knew when I came down the stairs. So I had as much warning as you, perhaps one minute sooner!" Julia fired back trying not to laugh at Tony's look of panic. "We're going to make it…barely. But we're going to make it!" She guided them out of the house and down the steps towards the vehicles.
"Are you sure?" Ziva moaned loudly feeling the immense pressure coming fast and quick and her body instinctively tried to squat to relieve the pressure.
"Oh no, no, no, Ziver." Gibbs went racing back to see Ziva squatting over a snow bank and crying out in pain. "You cannot have this baby here." He shook his head in a panic and tried to help pull her upright again. "Ducky doesn't want to deliver your baby in the snow." He smiled at her with a soft head nod. "Here we go!"
A loud whistle sounded and everyone's eyes flashed to Jack, "Jules! Defrost! The doors are frozen shut!" He smiled with Rurik tugging on the SUVs handles as Jack was precariously balancing a child under each arm and using Rurik as his hands.
"Go, I got this!" Gibbs smiled at Julia taking her place under Ziva's other arm, helping Tony move her towards the cars.
Julia laid her hand on the SUV and the several inches of snow covering it immediately melted away.
Ziva let out another loud cry and strangled scream.
"Oh boy," Julia moved quickly working her way around the circle driveway and quickly clearing and defrosting each car so that people could pile into their vehicles.
"Don't forget to clear the rest of the driveway!" Jack shouted at her as he was buckling their kids into the car with Katherine, William and Annika's help.
"Stand back!" Julia felt her heart start to race looking at Ziva and knowing it they didn't have a lot of time. She threw her arms up in front of her and sent out a massive heat pulse fireball that went shooting down the long driveway and out into the road, melting and clearing all the ice and snow immediately.
"Holy shit!" Palmer swore loudly in disbelief at seeing the fireball shoot out from Julia's body having never before seen such a thing.
"No swearing on Christmas!" Tony shouted back at him across the driveway.
"Ho-ly Shit!" Ziva cried out loudly beside him seconds later as another contraction gripped her hard. "And don't you dare tell me I can't swear!" She glared at Tony seeing the astonished look on his face.
"Never, My Love." Tony quickly agreed, "Swear away!" He encouraged her seeing the contorted expression on her face.
"Oh motherfff-udger!" Ziva cried out like a growl and changed her curse mid-scream seeing Kristoff's wide eyes looking at her as he waited to get into the SUV.
"Motherfudger!" Lena chanted with a smile hearing the curse through the open door and cheering.
"Oh, lovely." Katherine snorted back her laughter shaking her head and trying to buckle the now squirming toddler chanting 'motherfudger' over and over.
"I'll drive!" Julia waved Tony away from the driver's side door as Gibbs was trying to get her into the backseat alone. "Help him."
"I'll drive! You clear the snow!" Gibbs took the keys from Julia with a smile moving quickly and the two changed places with a Chinese fire-drill racing around the car.
"I have to lay down, I have to lay down," Ziva chanted in the back seat trying to hold it back. "Oh sweet Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Moses and Abraham…" she inhaled a cry. "I feel like I need to push!"
"Don't push!" Julia, Tony and Gibbs all yelled back at her at once.
They took off down the driveway at lightning speed, with Gibbs leading the way and Julia melting away the snow in front of them as fast as they were coming upon it.
"Red light! Red light!" Tony chanted near hysterics seeing the red light coming ahead and that Gibbs wasn't slowing down at all.
"Not anymore." Julia answered and waved her hand and turned it to green along with all the others down the road.
"Where were you all the mornings I was late for work with red lights?" Tony asked with astonishment, temporarily lost in fascination as they flew down the road at lighting speed. Ziva's loud moan and near bone-cracking force at which she squeezed his hand quickly brought him back to reality.
"That's my girl!" Katherine smiled with pride seeing all the lights before them suddenly turn green and knew it was Julia's doing. She was racing along with Jack, and the children behind Ziva's car with William and Annika in the one behind them Kristoff and whoever else had piled into the car in a long line.
*Science and Religion (repeat)
"Oooooh, she's coming!" Ziva cried with tears in her eyes and gasping for breath at how quickly this was happening now.
"Not yet, Ziva! Not yet!" Tony held her hand with tears in his eyes as well, seeing those in hers and hearing her cry out in pain.
"We are almost there, Ziver." Gibbs spoke calmly and tried to reassure her and himself that they would make it on time. "I can see the hospital ahead." He peered through the dark windows and tall trees around them enough to see the bright white light at the top of the hospital for the helicopter' landing pad. "It's just ahead."
Quickly he pushed the gas pedal and drove as fast as he dare hearing another muffled cry from Ziva. Pulling into the hospital Emergency Parking entrance rapidly while the others veered off to finding parking elsewhere.
"We're here, Ziva." Tony smiled softly at her and held tightly to her hand as Julia and Gibbs flew out of the car at the same time.
"I'll get a wheel chair." Gibbs raced towards the front doors.
"We don't have time for that." Julia moved quickly into the back seat and laid her hands on Ziva's belly, instantly absorbing some of the pain and slowing the contractions. Her liquid pools of gold flowing to life before their eyes. "Come on." She let one hand fall away from Ziva's belly and reached for her hand to help her out of the car, knowing that Ziva would never make into the hospital if she didn't help her.
Ziva's pain was peeled back completely with Julia's hand on her belly and was able to walk normally albeit slowly into the Emergency Room.
"I can't take my hand off of her." Julia looked right at Tony, "The moment I do this baby is coming. We have to get her upstairs to Labor and Delivery, right now!" She smiled at them both, "This is going to happen fast."
"I'll get her checked in." Gibbs waved them by as a nurse came to help.
"Hello." The nurse smiled sweetly at Ziva. "How long have you been in labor? How far apart are your contractions?" She asked not in too big of a hurry seeing how calm Ziva was now.
"They are endless." Julia answered for her, "We need to deliver this baby now. Please." She instructed and they saw the way the nurse looked at Ziva in disbelief and then something slowly happened before her eyes.
"Right away, follow me." The nurse quickly began to hurry them towards the elevator.
Tony's eyes flashed to Julia's and she smiled. He understood then that she'd done something to the woman's mind to get her moving without a lengthy explanation of how Ziva was in intense labor, yet Julia was holding it back.
As soon as Ziva was stripped of her clothing, put into a gown and maneuvered onto a labor and delivery bed, Julia let go. Ziva's labor came back at full-force with a blinding force. Liat had found them and quickly came to stand beside Ziva, taking hold of her hand on the opposite side of Tony, having promised Ziva to be there as she was for her during the birth of her daughter.
Julia was about to leave when Ziva cried out, "Don't go, please!" She begged her to stay, afraid and feeling better with Julia in the room in case something went wrong.
"You'll do wonderfully, Ziva." Julia smiled trying to reassure her.
"Please!" Ziva begged again with tears in her eyes as the nurses were moving quickly around the room to prepare for delivery.
"Okay." Julia smiled with a soft nod moving back towards the bed she stood beside Liat and lay her hand gently on Ziva's belly again, taking away some of the pain even as her body continued to do its best to push the baby out.
The doctor entered with room and immediately began washing his hands in the sink near the door preparing for delivery. When he was finished and came to sit before her on the stool, he smiled up at her, "Hello Ziva."
Ziva gasped with a flood of tears in recognizing this face, "Dr. Angelo." She inhaled a soft cry staring at the man who had first told her she was expecting in Israel, and now here he sat before her about to deliver her baby in her new country.
"Please, call me Gabriel." He smiled and the same flickering pools of gold appeared in his eyes.
Tony's mouth fell open slightly at his first introduction, as did Liat and Ziva's looking at the man and then over to Julia who didn't seem surprised at all. Her eyes were still flickering as she expended her energy to hold back some of Ziva's pain with her hand still on her belly.
"Gabriel…" Ziva gasped again quietly through her tears and the man simply smiled at her laying his hand on her belly and for the first time with his touch, Ziva felt the same tingling and warmth that she'd always felt with Julia's touch.
"I'm so happy to see you've made it this far, Ziva." Gabriel smiled at her.
"I wouldn't have if not for Julia." Ziva cried softly, "Without her I would have been alone in this." She shook her head in disbelief at what was happening.
"At lo levad, Ziva." Gabriel answered her in Hebrew with a smile, telling her she was never alone.
His eyes holding fast to Ziva's, she inhaled a sharp breath when suddenly her life began flashging before her eyes at lightning speed; from her very first cry coming into this world and every single moment after. Continuing on into the future and flying past this moment of giving birth hearing and seeing her own child's first cry, her first smile and walking and words, and far into the future all within the blink of an eye. Ziva exhaled with raining silent tears with the soft flash of a bright light and Gabriel's smile. His eyes turned to Julia's and the two remained locked in an intense gaze for several moments. They both let go of Ziva's belly and the pain once again found her at full intensity.
"Push through the pain, Ziva." He instructed with a soft head nod and smile as he sat down to deliver. "You can do it. Push through the pain."
"Come on, Ziva." Tony held her hand with tears in his eyes hearing the man they knew to be an angel, telling her first that she was never alone, in a saying that had been theirs since he'd said goodbye to her at the airport a year ago and then, telling her to push through the pain. "You can do this." Tony smiled at her and kissed her forehead.
"You can do this, Ziva." Liat encouraged her with a wide smile and tear filled eyes feeling the change in the room, the shift of energy and as though time, was standing still.
"I can already see her head." Gabriel smiled, "Push, Ziva!" He commanded.
"Push, Ziva!" Tony repeated overwhelmed with emotion with endless streams of tears, feeling as though something were happening in this moment as well; something more than just the birth of his baby as he looked at swirling pools of gold in Gabriel and Julia's eyes. "Push, Ziva!" He held tightly to her hand hearing her cries as she did her best to bring their child into the world.
"Good, Ziva." Gabriel smiled at her with a soft nodding seeing her progress. "Keep pushing!"
"Push Ziva!" Tony chanted again full of fear and excitement and a overwhelming sense sheer and utter awe at what was happening.
"Good job, Ziva." Julia smiled at her with unshed tears as well. "Good job." She smiled watching as the baby was coming.
"Her head is almost out!" Gabriel smiled with eyes looking up at Ziva while she took a moment to rest. "Good long push, Ziva!"
"Push!" Tony cried with her, "Push! Don't stop!"
"McGee," Malachi asked quietly with pounding heart in the waiting room as everyone was filled with an unexplainable feeling filling their hearts and the air crackling around them. "What was the name?"
"What name?" McGee asked startled to have the utter silence broken in the room.
"The name, of the child of Christ…what was his daughter's name?" Malachi asked holding his own baby girl in his arms. He knew the legends and theories according to one of the discarded Dead Sea Scrolls, the Book of Thomas, that the child that Christ had with Mary Magdalene was a girl, what some believed to be his real Holy Grail, his blood.
"Sarah," McGee answered in a near whisper. "It means Princess in Hebrew." He gasped with tear filled eyes knowing where the name Sarah had originally come from in the Bible.
"It comes from Sarai…" Lara smiled softly with confidence in her eyes and tone for a child. "She is the beautiful princess…and she is very special."
"Push Ziva!" Tony urged her again, "One last time, Ziva! You can do this, My Love! Push!"
Ziva pushed with all her might feeling a surge of energy come over her and pushed feeling her baby passing through her body and then the release.
Gabriel smiled widely as he held her in his hands cleaning out her mouth and quickly and hearing her loud and thunderous cry filling the room. "She has arrived." He gasped softly with tears filling his golden eyes and smiling at Ziva holding her baby up to see.
Tony and Ziva were both crying at hearing her first cries and to see her little arms and legs flailing about suspended in the air.
"She is beautiful." Gabriel lay her on Ziva's chest speaking quietly as the baby cried, "A beautiful princess…Sarai."
"It's okay," Ziva tried to sooth her wailing child with tears streaming down her face in happiness and relief that she was here. "Mama's here. It's okay." She repeated in Hebrew over and over with Sarai's cries softening as she nuzzled Ziva's flesh, instinctually latching on and nursing right away. Her beautiful brilliant green eyes staring back at Ziva with, an intensity they'd never seen before in a newborn so alert and focused. Her dark hair already forming big curls on the top of her head and absolutely perfect in every other way.
"She's so beautiful." Ziva cried staring into the eyes of her child nursing at her breast, absolutely in love already.
"She's perfect." Tony cried with an enormous smile and tears streaming down his cheeks, kissing Ziva's head and laying his hand over Ziva's holding the baby to her.
"She will do great things." Gabriel smiled softly looking at them, "With love. She will heal the wounds of the past." He turned to Julia with a soft nod and pride-filled smile, both of their eyes swimming wildly with the golden shimmering pools nearly consuming their eyes as they held for a long time in silent conversation.
Ziva was crying at his words, looking into her baby's beautiful green eyes she could already feel the wounds of the past in her own soul slowly mending with each tiny beat of her child's heart she could feel her against her own.
"Our baby, Ziva." Tony was in awe and crying endless tears of joy. "Our love." He smiled and kissed her lips.
"Where did he go?" Liat asked through her tears of happiness looking up to see they were alone in the room now with just Julia standing at the end of the bed smiling at them.
"He is gone." Julia answered quietly with a soft smile.
"He just disappears?" Liat spoke in such hushed tones it was nearly a whisper. It was as though the man had literally vanished into thin air when they weren't looking.
"He does." Julia nodded softly with the same smile and unshed tears. Her eyes coming back to normal but the pools of gold still flickering wildly inside them.
"Will he be back?" Ziva asked overwhelmed with emotion and feeling the immediate loss of the energy his presence had brought with him.
"He will." Julia nodded again, saying very little and smiling as though she knew something the rest of them did not and would not know given the look in her eyes as she looked at the baby. "You should tell them, Tony." She turned her smile towards him, "They are waiting for the news of her arrival."
"I'll be right back." He smiled with pride, kissing Ziva again and then dropping a tiny kiss to his daughter's tiny head still sucking happily on her mother's breast. He engulfed Julia in a hug on the way by, kissing her cheek and feeling the radiating warmth still flowing from her body and then moved onto to Liat, hugging and kissing her on his way out the door.
"She's here." He beamed with raging pride announcing the arrival of his child to those in the waiting room. "Our beautiful princess, Sarai has arrived."
"And on Christmas Eve." Abby smiled with tears of joy, throwing her arms around Tony.
"How is Ziva?" Gibbs asked with unshed tears and a smile.
"Perfect. She's a natural mother." Tony smiled with pride, "It was the most beautiful moment I've ever seen…the way they first looked at each other, the intensity. It was like Sarai knew exactly who Ziva was. Beautiful." He cried with tears of joy.
"And the doctor?" Malachi asked swallowing the lump in his throat as he looked at his own child and remembered her birth and what they'd been told by the children of Gabriel's presence at each of their births as well.
"It was Gabriel." Tony smiled still in awe. "And now he's gone…just like that."
"He'll be back." Lara smiled up at him with her own beautiful dark and dancing eyes that sparkled. "He always comes back."
"She's beautiful. Perfect." Gibbs smiled with tears finally falling as he held the baby in his arms. The perfect combination of Tony and Ziva; her mother's olive skin and dark hair and Tony's green eyes that even now, were fluttering open and closed; completely content in his arms. "You done good, Ziver." He leaned over and kissed Ziva's forehead. "Good job, Tony." He smiled at him with a soft head nod across the bed.
Ziva and Tony smiled back at him seeing the way Gibbs held their baby in his arms. Like she was always meant to be there. Like he was always meant to be her grandfather, her protector, her knight in shining armor.
"May I hold her, please?" Kristoff stepped forward from where he'd been watching quietly since he arrived.
Tony and Ziva looked at him and then each other, remembering what Rurik had said about their daughter and this boy.
Ziva nodded with a smile and Tony moved carefully to take the baby from Gibbs. Kristoff sat in the chair beside Ziva's bed and held his arms out for Sarai, having had a great deal of experience already with newborns. When Tony passed her off, he stepped back to hold Ziva's hand again as they watched the boy they'd already come to love and adore hold their beautiful baby girl for the first time. Sarai's eyes were open wide staring up at him, holding fast to his gaze as they looked deeply into each others eyes and a slow smile spread across Kristoff's face.
"She's beautiful." He smiled speaking quietly and staring into her brilliant green eyes, already dominant at birth and rare. "Hello Sarai." He greeted her as she continued to stare in silence for a long time.
"Have you ever seen a newborn this alert and still before?" McGee asked Ducky quietly as a doctor, as they all marveled at the interaction between Kristoff and Sarai.
"No, My Dear Boy," Ducky smiled with awe in his voice, "This is something special."
Rurik smiled with a loud whisper over hearing them, "Their souls know each other. She knows who he is. Toffee is older, so he's forgotten with time…but he'll remember." He paused watching his brother with the baby now and seeing him gently rub his cheek against Sarai's soft hair with a smile, "He's already remembering. She's his soul mate. His heart knows who she is."
"And Gabriel told you this?" Malachi asked the little boy again, a firm believer now that something much higher than any explanation could justify was at work here.
Rurik nodded softly with a smile. "Like Eden is mine." He reached up, gently touching the baby's exposed foot hanging from under Malachi's arm. "It will take them awhile to find each other again when they are older, like her Mama and Daddy." He smiled at Tony and Ziva, "But they will find each other. They just have different journeys they have to take by themselves first, before they can take the last one together."
*Never Grow Old
Tony watched Ziva sleeping beside him. The way her arm was flown back above her head, her hair wildly spilling around her and the absolute peace in her features as she slept. She was gorgeous, and beautiful and he could not love her move if he tried. Their baby was lying between them on the bed, asleep in nearly the same position as her mother. He'd woken before Ziva and heard his beautiful little princess stirring in the cradle beside their bed. Not wanting to wake Ziva just yet, he managed to sooth Sarai back to sleep for a little while at least with a pacifier letting her exhausted mother get another half hour of sleep.
Their baby was an eater and she especially liked to eat at night and sleep during the day. She was a DiNozzo, he decided, a night owl by genetic design. The problem was, she was also a David, and also had her mother's predisposition for waking early, far too early. This meant, she slept very little at night and most of the day. Everyone assure them this was normal, she was used to being awake at night when Ziva was still while pregnant, and lulled to sleep with her movements during the day. Someday, it would straighten out. Until then, they were working out a new routine. Where Tony was waking early, so that he could spend some quiet time with the baby and let Ziva sleep as she was the one who was up late with her and most of the night nursing. He also loved moments like this, waking early enough to catch Ziva still fully asleep and completely serene. Beautiful and alive…his heart skipped a beat knowing what day it was. His eyes stare at the puckered scar above her breast and directly over her heart.
A year ago on this day, the morning was very different. He'd woken up alone in his apartment with a bad feeling that he hadn't heard from Ziva. When he'd gotten to work, they had talked her out of staying in Israel; reminding her that she had too much to lose to revenge and she was coming home. To him and those that loved her. With a single bullet shot from miles away, his life as he knew it and hers, were nearly over. Fourteen hours later, he was told that Ziva was dead. Life lost all meaning.
But today, exactly 365 days later, life couldn't hold more meaning than it did in this moment. Ziva was now lying beside him, his wife. The thought of calling her that still made smile from ear to ear. They were married and the promise of tomorrow was now lying between them, tiny, asleep and the manifestation of their love in pure and perfect form. Sarai Bella…his beautiful princess. Tony's heart wasn't his' own anymore, it belonged to the two women sleeping in his bed beside him and the thought made him smile. That idea a year ago would have terrified him; to give over his heart and trust that it wouldn't get broken again.
"Hey," Ziva smiled waking up slowly, "Good morning." She yawned and then smiled again looking from Tony to their beautiful sleeping between them. Quietly, she laid her hand gently over Sarai's chest to feel her heart beating. "Good morning, Gorgeous." She leaned in and kissed her baby's forehead.
"That's my line." Tony smiled with a soft laugh and leaned over, kissing Ziva's forehead and then lips in a sweet kiss. "Good morning, Gorgeous." He paused, "Did you sleep well?"
Ziva nodded softly staring into her baby's sweet angelic face and gently running her thumb over Sarai's ear as she lay with her head turned and face towards Ziva.
*You Got the Love
"Happy Birthday Ziva." Tony added quietly and saw the immediate confusion in her eyes before realization that today was the day she'd survived certain death. Her fingers, of their own accord, reached up to trace her bullet wound. "Ani ohev otach, Ziva DiNozzo. Always." Tony smiled softly leaning in towards her.
Ziva's eyes flushed with unshed tears and took a deep breath, pulling Tony in closer with hand gently to the back of his neck, kissing him deeply over their baby. "I love you, too, Tony." She smiled with tears of happiness at how much her life had changed in the last year and how she couldn't have imagine any of it when the year began. Not her father's death, or being shot, or anything that followed after. Certainly not finding siblings, marrying Tony and having a baby.
It had been a year filled with lessons. None were more important than the Rules of Engagement, to never waste what is good and to take nothing for granted… especially their love.
Their lives had always been a roller coaster full of ups and downs, twists and turns…moments that made them scream in glee and others that stilled their hearts with terror. They realized now, that the Ride of Life wasn't as scary if you didn't have to face it alone. In fact, facing it with the people you loved is what made the ride worthwhile. You hold on tight, grit your teeth and jump… Take a leap of faith that everything might not always work out exactly how you want it to be, but realizing it's likely ending up exactly how its meant to be instead… and most of the time, it turns out way better than you could have ever imagined.
"We made it, Tony." Ziva smiled lacing her hand with his to rest over their baby. They had both let go of their fears, overcome their' past tragedies and started embracing their future.
Wherever the ride took them next, they were ready. Because they were facing it together, and together, they could face anything.
Have a dance party with the rest of the song! Enjoy the feels!...
AN: One more song, *'Necessary Evil' by Hans Zimmer from The Dark Knight Rises
The man sat on his beach chair under the shade umbrella, still melting in the sweltering sun of mid-summer in the Southern Hemisphere. His eyes were on the beautiful little girl in the blue bikini bottoms with her long dark curly hair and tan skin; he smiled as he heard her giggle when the ocean tickled her toes.
"She's beautiful." He finally spoke to the man beside him with a smile on his face and in his voice. "Are you having a birthday party for her?" He asked picking up his glass drink tumbler and taking a sip of the local drink.
"Next weekend." The other man smiled with pride in his voice. "Her friends from school are coming over for the afternoon with their families for a barbeque. She is excited about playing games."
"I imagine every two year old is." The man smiled and opened the folder beside him, scanning the contents inside. "She's receiving excellent marks all around. You think she's ready?"
"She's dominating her peers in every category. And there was an interesting development this week." The man hedged with caution in his voice. "We were making pancakes. She accidently set her hand on the griddle when she was sitting on the counter beside me, something very interesting happened."
"You're going to have to be more specific, Cruz. If there was a change, I need to know about it." The man's tone immediately became hard and he lost his smile as he looked over at the little girl playing on the beach with her Nanny. "Show me."
Ray hesitated for a moment before calling her over, "Aliyah, come here please."
When the little girl came running forward she smiled widely with big green eyes that held flecks of gold and a gorgeous face, stunning already at two.
"Can you please show my friend Mr. Kort, your very special trick with the glass?" Ray asked with a soft tone and smile nodding towards the now empty drink tumbler beside him on the table. "Please?" He asked the little girl again and smiled.
The little girl stared intently at the glass and the gold pools in her eyes began to swim and grow wildly inside her green depths. Within a moment the glass began to shake on the table and then shattered, exploding into fine grains of glass sand and the little girl smiled.
"A good job, Daddy?" She asked Ray with adoring eyes as the gold subsided in her eyes.
"A very good job, Sweetheart." Ray smiled and leaned forward kissing her on the lips. "You can go play now." He waved at her Nanny who called her back to building sandcastles again.
"Amazing." Kort's face was astonished with a wide smile watching Aliyah run off again. His eyes rapidly looking down to scan the file again. "And Ziva has no idea that her eggs were harvested for the Genetic Program during her time in Somalia?"
"No, she doesn't." Ray sighed with the smile falling fast and shaking his head at the mentioning of Ziva. "As of now, she is completely oblivious that she has another daughter out there in the world."
"And DiNozzo?" Kort asked with his accent thickening in thinking about the man.
"Believes that the sperm he donated was never used and discarded. He too, remains in the dark about his involvement in this project." Ray's eyes traveled back to the little girl on the beach before them.
Kort smiled quite pleased with himself and set the folder down, signaling the waitress for another drink. "Perfect." His eyes glanced over the first page once again and smiled reading the contents.
Aliyah Ziva Cruz:
Biological Father: Anthony DiNozzo Jr. 10% Genetic Contribution
Biological Mother: Julia Kristin Taylor 45% Genetic Contribution
Biological Mother: Ziva Elise David 45% Genetic Contribution
"And if they find out?" Ray asked nervously with leg bouncing and starting to fidget. "If Ziva or Julia especially, find out I have their child?"
"We'll worry about it then. Relax." Kort sighed.
"And in the meantime? What do we do with Aliyah?" Cruz asked.
"We start her in the program and see how far we can push her." Kort smiled picking up a piece of the shattered glass. "If she is this powerful already, I can only imagine her potential given she is only two years old."
"She's still a baby, just a toddler." Cruz narrowed his eyebrows. "The burn was accidental." The worry in his tone was hard to miss.
"Yes, and look at the glorious emotional reaction we got from her." Kort smile. "This is what she was bred for, or have you forgotten?" He turned his eyes to a hard stare, "You may have requested to raise her as your child but she still belongs to the program." His tone softened and he sat back again with a smile, "She is turning out beautifully. More than we could have hoped for after so many failures." Kort held up his new drink with a smile. "Congratulations, Cruz. Job well done, Daddy." He sneered with a smile. "Job well done, indeed."
~Fin~ or is it? Perhaps, there may be a Book Three in the future...
(A lot of people have been asking/ wondering how it was that Julia did not see this coming etc. The answer is at the beginning of Chapter 37 during her talk with Ziva and Liat!)
Thank you all for taking this wild ride. To my loyal readers and those who've taken the time to write me reviews especially, I cannot thank you enough. Your loving and kinds words have helped fuel my muse and inspire me to continue to write more in the future. So many stories left to tell!
For those wishing to read any further stories from me, please let me know so I can tell you. I am now posting Julia's story next, as The Phoenix Protocol. Her backstory with The Council will help lay the foundation to explain anything I may write in Book Three of ROE, as it will deal with The old Council.
I'm sure I will write more NCIS and Tiva in the future, perhaps some Maliat or Liachi, which ever you prefer to call Malachi and Liat. Likely more one shots especially with the Season Finale arc coming. I hope you have enjoyed the journey!
During the course of these two books, there have been over 30,000 readers/visitors. I would love to hear just one review from those of you who enjoyed the story and kept reading this far, that I haven't heard from before :) I just like to know you're really out there and what you thought of the story as a whole! Xoxo- Wild
AN: For those who may have missed it...that cliff-hanger was the "Easter Egg" setting up a potential Third Book if there is enough interest! Everyone should be happy about this if they enjoyed the story and wanted it to continue! :) -Wild
The summary for ROE: Book One provided by ForeignMusicLyrics.
God Bless those of you who took the time to review nearly every single chapter for both books! You are the best and I adore you for your time and thoughtfulness in giving me good feedback. It's fuel to a writer's muse to know that people do care about what it is they're writing! They have no way of knowing otherwise, so thank you.
AN: For those experiencing the withdrawal of daily ROE updates, I have started posting another ALREADY COMPLETED fanfiction I wrote in college for ALIAS. If you enjoyed ROE to the end, I think you will LOVE this story even if you have never watched any episode of ALIAS.
I write from my life experience, so you will see re-occuring themes from ROE to this one, Absolution. SUPER fun and fantastical adventure ride of figuring stuff out with lots of romance, history, hot lovin', funny and FEELS along the way.
Check it out on my author's page if you're interested in having a daily fix for a long time to come! -Wild
PS- Thank you for all of the wonderful wonderful reviews of ROE! I am so excited to hear what people have thought about the story from start to finish to potential future! If I haven't heard from you before, please consider leaving me at least one review to give me your overall thoughts! I'd really appreciate it!
*To those who reported me, there you go. No rule breaking :) Now on to The Phoenix Protocol in the next chapter!