“Mariely!” Ziva hollered after the energetic girl as she chased after her in the park. School was out, summer was here and after losing to John, she took the week off from work as Teyla was out of town to visit Ronon and Carson back at the SGC in Colorado. “Mariely! Do not make me run after you!”
“Oh come on!” Mariely rolled her eyes in the typical way her father did as she looked at her mother. “You can’t catch me!” she giggled as she started to skip further away from her mother.
She sighed and sprinted forward and quickly caught up with her before dragging the girl up off her feet. “It’s too hot to run around in this sun. I can handle it but you haven’t spent any time where I grew up,” she explained. “Come on. We’ll go get ice cream before meeting Dad at work.”
“Yay! Ice cream!” Mariely giggled again and wrapped her arms around Ziva’s neck. “The heat doesn’t bother me, Mommy.”
“You say that now,” Ziva sighed as she walked back to her car before stopping off at Cold Stone Creamery to get a small order for the two of them to share as she didn’t want much herself. It didn’t take the child long to finish it off before they ordered some to bring with them to the team.
“What do you want to put in Daddy’s?” she asked as she held Mariely back up so that she could see all the toppings again. “I think he would like the M&Ms.”
“I think he’d like everything Mommy,” Mariely answered. “But I think M&Ms are good.”
“What about Uncle Tony and Uncle Timmy?” Ziva added as she pointed to the flavors of ice cream out. If that had been left up to the girl, it would all be chocolate, but she knew that they would be better with a lighter color knowing them. Looking at the boy taking the order, she said, “It’s going to be seven small orders but a different topping mixed in.”
“No problem ma’am,” the boy smiled.
“Uncle Tony should get something without sugar and Uncle Tim something with sugar.” Mariely nodded.
She laughed and nodded. “Okay then. Pretzels for Uncle Tony, and sprinkles for Uncle Timmy. What about Uncle Gibbs and Aunt Abby?”
“Strawberries for Aunt Abby and ehm…”
“Brownies?” Ziva suggested.
“Okay,” she laughed. “Then that leaves Dr. Ducky, Jimmy, and Mister Director.”
“Jimmy can have gummibears! Oh and for Dr. Ducky fudge and Mister Director coconut!” Mariely started to dance around after she was put back down. “Perfect!”
Ziva nodded to the boy. “You got the order.”
It took them about ten minutes before everything was made and done before she paid and ushered the girl back out to the car. It still made her laugh that the only time her daughter really went quiet during the entire ride was at the gate. Glancing up in the rear view mirror, Ziva understood why and smiled in amusement as she continued on.
After getting her visitor badge, Mariely led the way upstairs to the bullpen, almost as if she worked there herself. “ICE CREAM!” she hollered out as she stepped off the elevator.
Ziva had the bags in her hands so she wasn’t able to pull her back before she ran ahead of her and sighed.
“Very Special Agent Mariely, what are you doing all yelling in the bullpen? People work here,” Gibbs said with a playful but stern look on his face as the little girl bumped into him.
“Ice cream, you should get it before it melts,” Mariely nodded. “Sir,” she added with a giggle.
Setting the bag on top of her own empty desk Ziva looked over at him. “Sorry about that. She has been like this since she woke up this morning. Here you go,” she replied as she handed out the containers. “Where is John?” she asked, noticing that he wasn’t around.
“Oh! Ice cream!” Tony smiled widely and lifted Mariely off her feet. “John’s downstairs, getting patched up.” He opened the container and then looked at Mariely. “Pretzels?”
“No sugar for you, you’re too hyper enough,” she said wisely which made Gibbs and McGee chuckle.
“You’re one smart cookie.” Tony nodded.
“I’m no cookie!”
Ziva turned around and gave her a warning look. “Volume. I’ll be back shortly. I have paper and crayons here at my desk that you can play with. Remember everyone is working so please be quiet.”
When Tony put Mariely back on the ground, she looked at Gibbs. “We also brought ice cream for Mister Director.”
“Well then, let’s go, shall we?” Gibbs said amused as the took his own container, the one for Leon in one hand and her little hand in the other. Mariely had become somewhat the unofficial mascot of NCIS and no one really cared when she’d raise her voice or poke her head into almost every desk in the bullpen. The kid was adorable and smart and she could get away with anything for the most part.
Ziva shook her head as she headed down to drop off everyone else’s treat. After barely getting away from Abby without ended up on a caffeinated high herself, she made her way into the morgue and frowned at the sight of seeing John sitting on the table while Ducky slapped a bag of ice to his face.
“What did you do now?” she asked as she handed Jimmy his quickly before making her way to his side.
“Hi,” John smiled. “How are you?” He looked at Ducky and held the ice bag to his face. “Thanks Ducky.”
“I’m fine. You?” she asked as she pulled the ice away and looked at the fist sized bruise under his eye. “Mariely and I brought ice cream for everyone.”
“I’m fine, I just didn’t see the fist coming from the suspect’s brother.” He pulled the ice back and put it back against his face. “Ice cream? Yum.”
Ziva sighed and nodded. Pulling herself up on the table next to him, she handed him his container and plastic spoon. “If it makes you feel any better, Mariely managed to kick me in the mouth when she was in her bath this morning. How? I don’t know, but she managed to do it.”
“She’s a part of you,” John nodded as he opened his container and smiled widely. “Oh, M&Ms!” he set the container next to him and took a spoonful. “She’s a mini you, so no wonder she managed to kick you in the face. Are you okay though?”
She shrugged and went to lean her head on his shoulder. “I’ll be alright. It’s just hard to be in that house alone while Teyla is gone. Its too big,” she commented.
John had to chuckle as he fed Ziva a spoonful of ice cream. “Even after all these years, you’re not capable of taking the day off without getting antsy, I’ll lose next time,” he nodded. “I promise.”
“Thank you,” she replied around the mouthful. “And no. I happen to like to work but she doesn’t seem to behave unless you are around. Talk about being a daddy’s girl.”
John took another spoonful of ice cream. “Sorry,” he apologized. “You should be grateful though that it’s just you and Mariely at home. If Teyla had left Torren at home you’d have gone crazy.”
She didn’t even want to think about that and groaned. “Just three more days,” she sighed. “Three more days then everything can get back to normal.”
“Not if I keep missing things,” John sighed. “Yesterday it was a door. Today it was a fist. Hey! You wanna swap?” he asked with a cheeky grin.
“Sounds more like your head is somewhere else and not on the job,” Ziva replied.
Ducky spoke up from across the way where he was working on his treat at his small desk. “That is what I told the lad,” he shared. “If he would just ask…oh um…never mind…”
“Oh! Yes!” John smiled. “Thanks Ducky,” he nodded and then looked at Ziva. “Would you like to spend an entire weekend with just the two of us at a beautiful mountain lodge? Abby’s already offered to baby sit Mariely if Teyla hasn’t returned by then.”
Ziva grinned up at him before nodding. “If I can talk Gibbs into letting you out early, can we go this weekend? I love her and everything, but we really haven’t gone and done anything by ourselves in so long.”
“I know.” John smiled and quickly kissed her. “Yep, go ask Gibbs. I’ll be right up.”
She returned his kiss softly. “Okay,” she said softly before leaving, saying her goodbyes to Ducky and Palmer. When she got back upstairs, she paused at the divider and watched as Mariely was talking away about something to McGee as he tried to listen as if it were the most fascinating thing ever. “Gibbs? Can we talk for a minute?”
“Talk,” Gibbs nodded as he took a sip of his coffee.
He took his coffee with him and pointed towards the elevator. “After you.”
Ziva stepped into the small box and waited for the doors to close before she flipped the stop switch and looked over at him. “I do not ask you for much of anything but please, before you say yes or no, take a moment to consider my request…”
“What do you take me for, Ziva? A monster? Of course I think of things before answering requests.”
She gave him a look but smiled nonetheless. “Would you let John leave for an early weekend?” she asked.
“Yes, please,” Gibbs said quickly. “He’s not here. You should knock some sense into him or train Tony and McGee better in keeping an eye on him.”
She looked at him surprised for a moment then worried. “He has gotten a lot better with using his other senses. You should see him spar against Teyla. She did say that he responds now as he did when they first started training together. Whatever is his problem, I will find it out. I promise.”
“Then by all means, take him with you whenever you want. It’s not as if this case is a tough one. Pretty basic drug dealing marine case.”
“Ah, yes. Alright. Well – I’ll bring Mariely down by Abby so that I can go home and pack her a bag. John mentioned that she agreed to watch her whenever we did leave and after the park today I am ready to pull my hair out. It should be nearing the end of the work day by the time I get back.”
Gibbs shook his head, laughing. “Sure Ziva,” he then flipped the switch of the elevator back on. “Just fix him.”
“I will try,” she replied. “You know that is not an easy task, but thank you.”
“Nope. Thank you,” Gibbs nodded as he sipped on his coffee and walked out of the elevator.
After she collected Mariely, dropped her off at the lab with Abby, Ziva made her way home to make everyone’s overnight bag. A small voice kept nagging at her the entire time. It was highly unusual for Gibbs to approve something so quickly and so eagerly but she shook it off.
Upon returning to the Navy yard, she went straight to the lab before going back upstairs. “Here is her bag and everything that you should need. If you do need something, I have some money in an envelope inside that you can get it with. If she has her way, you will end up using an entire bottle of bubble bath in one shot so keep an eye on that.”
“Oh don’t worry,” Abby grinned. “We’ve already made our plans,” she high-fived Mariely. “She’s going to help me around in my lab… don’t worry, she’ll be on the safe side, taking care of Bert, and we’re going to watch movies, and go bowling…”
“And the zoo!” Mariely jumped up and down.
“The zoo? Oh Mariely you know what happened to you last time,” Ziva sighed. “If you pick up some Children’s Benedryl and take her epi-pen with you, you should be fine.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll be bee free!” Abby grinned and nodded. “I will get everything. I’m a good baby sitter, this is not the first time I’ve looked after your girl, Ziva. We’ll be fine.”
She frowned and looked at her girl. “I know. I just can’t help but to worry regardless.”
“I know, because you’re a mom. But you also have a whole arsenal of crazy aunts and uncles who are more than willing to help out so go drag your man out of here and leave your girl in good hands. And please, don’t call every five minutes to check up on us.”
“You know John is more likely to do that than I am,” Ziva said before slowly smiling. “Alright I’m going, I’m going. Mariely…Come say goodbye,” she added before looking around as the girl had already run off to play computer games at Abby’s desk.
“Bye Mommy! I love you!” Mariely waved as she clicked the mouse.
“Mariely,” John’s voice sounded. “What happened to giving your mother a hug and kiss before saying goodbye?”
The girl looked like a deer caught in headlights. Swallowing hard, she ran to Ziva and hugged and gave her one of their ‘Snoopy’ kisses. “Have fun Mommy!”
“Thank you,” Ziva chuckled as she kissed her on the nose. “Behave for Abby.”
“Yes Mommy,” Mariely sighed and went over to hug John. “Love you Daddy.”
“I love you too, Mariely. Have fun with Abby.” John looked at Ziva and shook his head laughing. “I have no idea how you’ve managed to get me the rest of the week off too.”
She looked at him with a raised eyebrow as they walked off towards the elevator to the parking level. “It would seem that whatever has had you distracted this week, your lack of concentration has reached Gibbs’ limit. He was more than eager to have you out of the way.”
“I’m not that distracted,” John rolled his eyes. “You’re lucky that I could reschedule the mountain lodge, and I’ve made a reservation at a good restaurant on the way there.”
Ziva narrowed her eyes as they walked towards his truck where she already moved their bags into. “Let’s just get on the road,” she murmured and batted the voice in her head away again.
“I already promised I’ll lose next time!” John laughed as he got into the driver’s seat. “What’s wrong now?”
“Nothing,” she shrugged. “I’ve just had a weird feeling all day is all. It’s probably just my needing to get away, I don’t know.”
John kissed her before starting the car and driving off the Navy Yard. “Relax and turn off your spidey senses, otherwise I will continue to bump into things to annoy you.”
“Yes yes,” she sighed as she settled into the passenger seat after turning the radio on and closed her eyes and was quick to slip into a light sleep.
John smiled, “Welcome to Basye, Virginia. You were sleeping so soundly during the trip that I didn’t want to wake you up for dinner, but I’m sure these people serve a decent meal as well.”
“Right now I’m tired enough to skip dinner for tonight,” she admitted. “But if you want to go, I’ll be more than happy to have something light so that you aren’t alone. Sorry.”
“Are you kidding me? I’m starving,” John smiled brightly as he exited the car and grabbed their bags from the trunk. “Let’s hit registration first.”
Nodding, she almost poured out of the truck before going to help with their things and followed him in. “This is nice,” she said as she looked around, stumbling after him as her foot caught a large, buried stone.
“Are you alright?” John asked worriedly. “Did Mariely tire you that bad?”
“I am fine and yes, she did. I did say that she woke up seemingly on a sugar high, didn’t I?” she asked as she leaned on the counter yawning. “Excuse me. Just get me some coffee and I’ll be good. I’ve worked longer days before than this.”
“Hi! Welcome to Sky Chalet Mountain Lodge. Under what name did you make your reservation?” The young woman at the counter smiled widely.
“Sheppard,” John smiled.
“Oh, right,” she nodded as she looked up the reservation. “I’ll tell the cook you’ve arrived and bring you some food to your room.” Taking the keys off the rack, she added, “You’re on the second floor, just take the stairs all the way up and go to your left. All the way down the corridor.”
“Thank you,” John replied with a smile, taking the keys and followed Ziva.
As soon as they walked into into the room, she looked around to place where everything was. Desk, television, sofa… “Bed,” she sighed as her eyes set on the large fluffy piece of furniture. Dumping her bag next to John’s, she made her way over and collapsed across the blankets.
He chuckled as he made his way over and started to pull off her boots, then her socks. John then crawled his way up to her and kissed her tenderly. “How about a nice massage after I’ve eaten, Mommy?”
“Thank you Daddy,” she smiled as she leaned up to kiss him. “So we spend the night inside tonight? Maybe go to the lake tomorrow or something?”
“We’ll see,” John smiled as he caressed her hair. “We’ve got four whole days of doing absolutely nothing if we want to.”
Ziva hummed her approval as she laid there. “I can think of a way to kick it off,” she grinned up at him wolfishly.
“Oh, me too,” he grinned. “But food first, I’m starving!” John started to kiss her again. “Although, I don’t mind doing the ground work first… and have you cool off when the food gets here and then start all over again…” he slipped his way underneath her shirt and continued to kiss her.
She laughed lightly as she tried to lift her head. “I was actually thinking of a relaxing bath if the tub is large enough for us,” she said as she rolled onto her side so that she could throw her leg over his.
“You’re a spoil sport,” John pouted.
“You’re the one saying you are starving,” she replied as she hit him lightly. “Go order food while I go to get our things set up.”
“Honey, I already called them for food when we were driving and you were asleep, I’m sure that within the next few minutes they’ll be here.” He chuckled and rolled her over so he could gently sit on top of her. Grinning, he started to unbutton her shirt.
Her body heated up and she gradually became more awake from his attention. Laying there, she let him work on her shirt as she reached for his belt. “You do know that we’ll either be in the process of undressing each other or already into having our fun when they come with our food. It would not be a very welcoming interruption if we get too far ahead of ourselves now.”
“Nope, because you’re not going to touch me.” He grinned and gently grabbed her hands and placed her above her head. “I could easily wrap you up in a blanket when they come.” John kissed her again and then started to kiss his way down her jaw, her neck and chest. He was halfway done getting rid of her pants when someone knocked on the door.
“Coming,” John replied and folded the blanket over Ziva as if she was a gift waiting to be unwrapped, and he had to smile at the sight of her. She had no idea what he had planned for her.
He walked to the door and took the two trays from the bellboy after tipping him first. John closed the door with his foot and then placed the trays on the bed. “I got you some salad,” he said as he lifted the lid of his plate.
“You know me oh so well,” she grinned as she sat up and shifted to the edge of the bed with only her bra and underwear still on.
He nearly choked on a piece of chicken from his own tray. “I wrapped you up for a reason, you know…”
“Well how am I going to eat my dinner?” she asked innocently as she lifted the lid to her plate and picked at a carrot from the spring mix.
John took one of his fries and dipped it in the wonderful sauce they served with the chicken before bringing it to Ziva’s mouth. “I should have brought my cuffs.”
“Maybe you should have if you want to keep me from doing anything,” she grinned as she chewed. “But that just makes me feel even more like you are trying to keep me distracted now.”
John shrugged and continued to eat his chicken and fries. “I do have some bad news…”
She raised an eyebrow as she had begun to eat. “What’s that?”
“This chicken tastes so good that I might have to try their steak tomorrow,” he said with a serious look on his face.
“You mean you actually ordered chicken before steak?” she asked with an exaggerated expression of shock. Her hand flew up to her chest as she pretended to be unable to breathe from the surprise.
John nodded. “Mostly because we had steak yesterday.”
“That hasn’t stopped you before,” Ziva replied as she took one last bite before deciding she had enough for the time being.
“No I’m serious, try this.” He dipped a piece of chicken in the sauce and brought it to her lips. “Even you won’t be able to stop eating it.”
Nodding, she smiled. “It is good but I know something else that is much more delicious in my opinion,” she murmured as she leaned in to kiss his jaw. “Why don’t I go start us a bath…”
“Good idea,” John smiled widely. “I’ll be right with you.”
Ziva almost bounced into the bathroom and just about stopped short. The bathroom was relatively huge considering the size of the lodge and the bath was also a jetted tub which made her very happy. Turning on the faucets and eyed the small mini bottles of bath soaps on the shelf she emptied one in so that it bubbled up. It wasn’t long before the room was filled with the soft fragrance of vanilla and nuts that gave such a warm feeling.
When it was ready, she undid her bra and pulled off her panties before calling out. “John! It’s ready!”
He had just about cleaned up the trays from the bed when she called that the bath was ready. Taking a deep breath, he took the stack of towels with him into the bathroom and placed them on the edge of the bath. “Wow, look at the size of that bath,” he said impressed as he started to undress himself.
She already settled into the water and smiled up at him. “Jetted too,” she added with a teasing smile. “Come. You need to relax as much as I do too.”
John was careful not to knock over the towels as he got into the bath. “We should get one of these,” he smiled as he sat down.
Ziva laughed as she moved over to straddle his lap once he was in and settled. “Maybe we should. For a house that large, I’m surprised there wasn’t one in there to begin with.” With a sigh, she shifted and shimmied into position until they were both comfortable before leaning in to lay her head on his shoulder while the hot water beat against their skin.
“Air Force,” he grinned as he put his arms around her. It had been a long time since they had been completely alone and he knew they needed this. “We’ll go and look for one when we’re back… right now it’s just you and me and we don’t have to do anything.”
“And that is a wonderful thing,” she chuckled. “Thank you for all this John.”
“No, I should thank you,” he nodded and kissed her shoulder. “You’ve done so much for me and with me, I am eternally grateful for you.”
She hummed a response as she had felt her body giving in to the water. Her eyes slipped closed as she slid down his body some so that she was able to use him like a large pillow to feel the heat from both the water and him. “Yes, we need to have one of these installed. As soon as Teyla is home so that she can make sure that contractors don’t go near anything valuable.”
John chuckled as he caressed her hair. “Anything else you’d like? A bed the size of the bedroom and very comfortable?” he asked teasingly. “A walk in closet?”
Pretending to be actually considering those things she eventually shook her head as she looked up at him. “No. Just the bath. I already have everything else I never knew I wanted,” she smiled.
“Are you happy?” he asked softly as he looked her in the eyes. “I mean… happier than you were?”
Ziva was quiet for a moment as she thought on the question. She knew that he wasn’t looking for a witty answer by his tone, just the truth. “I am,” she admitted slowly, sitting up to look at him more. “I really am. I have everything now that I didn’t think I ever would. I could not ask for more. Are you happy?”
“Yeah, I am,” John smiled at her before moving his lips to her neck. “Every morning I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, I mean… there’s you and our gorgeous daughter and I’m actually happy with working at NCIS. The Air Force wants to cancel the arrangement they have with NCIS for a liaison. Did you know that?” When Ziva looked at him with an alarmed expression on her face he smiled, “Gibbs and Vance wants me to do the official tests of becoming an NCIS agent, and they promised that we wouldn’t be separated from each other because we work so well together.”
“Pretty much everything that I went through. You’ll do fine, I’m sure of it. And it is good that they won’t split us because I doubt that anyone else would be able to tolerate you the way I do,” she deadpanned before grinning.
“I’m not that bad,” he rolled his eyes and kissed her. “And you know what? It was Gibbs who said he wanted to keep me, and that was weird.”
Ziva shook her head. “It’s not weird. He knows a good agent when he sees one and will make sure that you will stay at NCIS at the very least.”
John kissed her again. “I love you, Ziva. I really can’t imagine my life without you anymore.”
She leaned into his kiss and smiled against his lips. “I love you too,” she whispered as she crawled back up his body and pressed hers against him. Stretching her arms over his shoulders, she nipped at his lips playfully.
He needed to do this before they would get carried away, he just needed to do it because he felt like he was one of those circus artists who got stuffed into a canon and about to be blown to pieces… well mentally anyway. “I know we’ve talked about this before, and well…” John softly kissed her. “I’m just going to take my chances. I love you more than anything in this world. Heck, the entire galaxy or two, and you’re the reason why I wake up with a smile every morning. Maybe it sounds a bit old fashioned and cheesy, but I really don’t want to lose you. You make me whole, Ziva, you’re an amazing woman; you’re smart, funny and so incredibly beautiful and I want you to be mine,” he said as he fumbled a small box from between the towels he brought in. Opening it slowly, he looked up and smiled at her. “Gibbs and Ducky gave me their blessing when I asked them for your hand in marriage. Will you do me the honor of becoming mine, forever?”