This is it, for now. I will most certainly follow up later, but this is it for a little. I am so grateful to all my amazing, supportive, critical and loving readers- you guys truly are the best. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Y'all make me happy.
Thank you to Mechabeira for helping me navigate writing this story - you are most awesome.
Xo's to all.
"We will run and scream.
You will dance with me.
We'll fulfill our dreams and we'll be free.
We will be who we are, and they'll heal our scars.
Sadness will be far away."
Mumford and Sons, Not With Haste
Sophie was wearing the special new shoes Ema had bought for her. They were called Mary Janes, but she called them D.W. shoes instead because on the TV Arthur's sister D.W. wore them all the time. They were big girl shoes for special occasions like today, when they were going to talk to the judge who would sign the papers to make them forever. They had to wait patiently for a long time, which was hard. She didn't want to play with the toys they brought, and it was getting hot in the waiting room. She was what Abby called ansty, which meant that she had trouble sitting still on Daddy's lap.
Ms. Andrea leaned over to her and smiled. "Looks like you got a lot of signatures on your cast." She commented, and Sophie nodded. Her family, her teachers, and even the other kids in her class had all signed their names or drawn little pictures on her hard cast.
"Do you want a snack, shaifeleh?" Ema asked, looking through her big purse. "I have crackers, a banana, some of those dried snap peas you like-"
A man interrupted her when he poked his head out the door and called "DiNozzo family", and their lawyer had them get up and go into the courtroom.
"Here we go, kiddo." Daddy said, picking Sophie up and giving her a big smile. She gulped and held onto his collar. There were four chairs set up just for them behind a table. She sat between Ema and Daddy, but then the Judge came in and they had to stand for him because he was important. He even looked a little bit like Santa Claus.
"Sophie," The Judge said, and she jerked her head up. "You like these people?" He pointed at Ema and Daddy. She looked at Ema, then at Daddy and the lawyer, and they nodded at her.
"Yeah." She replied, as loud as she could make her voice go. She felt brave today.
"Good. You want to stay with them?"
"Yes," Sophie replied confidently. She did. She was ready.
The judge nodded and winked at her. "Well, I reviewed the file and I find the petitioners, Ziva David and Anthony DiNozzo to be fit and acceptable parents for the minor child, Sophie Mae Levy." And just like that he signed the special piece of paper.
"Will you be petitioning for a surname change?", the judge asked, and their lawyer said that yes, Sophie was to become Sophie Mae DiNozzo by the end of session. They had talked about that last night- that now she would have Daddy's last name, which was another part of being theirs forever. It wasn't like throwing Rachel or her past away, Ema had explained, but like starting over. Sophie liked that.
The judge signed that form too, and then he banged his special hammer and said "Court is adjourned".
Daddy picked Sophie up from her chair and spun her around before hugging her close. Ema joined in and Sophie wrapped both arms around each of their shoulders.
"This is it, baby", Daddy whispered. "You're our little girl".
"We love you so much." Ema promised, and she was crying and smiling at the same time, which was weird, but she didn't have time to think about it because it was time for lots of pictures. The Judge got down and took some of everyone from Ema and Daddy's- her- family all together. Then Tim McGee and Abby and Gibbs and Ducky were taking a million more pictures, and she was glad when they finally stopped and they left the courthouse to go home. There was a party in their backyard later, and Abby was talking about all the ingredients she still needed to buy. Everyone gave hugs and kisses and said congratulations and Gibbs even slapped Daddy on the shoulder in the nice way that Ema said meant he was proud.
Sophie looked around then, and saw everyone- really saw them in the bright sunshine that made her squint. She got a warm, happy feeling in her tummy that moved all the way to the top of her head and down to her tippy toes in her fancy D.W. Shoes. She felt it in the cool air in the parking lot and in the way Ema kissed her cheek when she buckled her in. She hoped it would stay there forever- maybe it would, now that they were forever.