Chapter 9

Ziva was still clinging to him when he decided to take her to her bigger surprise. As it was her birthday tomorrow, Sheppard had arranged for two of her former co-workers to come to Atlantis and spend some time with her, because as much as Ziva really had found her way with people here and even made her own friends besides the team, he could tell she was missing them.

Not that he blamed her, she had worked with them for over 5 years and shared a lot, John would feel the same if he suddenly had to go and work somewhere else. He also saw how she reacted to the emails her co-workers sent her, and she was always disappointed when Tony didn’t reply the way she wanted to or send her long emails like McGee and Abby did.

It took a lot of paper work, back and forth emailing with Director Vance and General Landry but in the end, he had managed this little surprise for her.

“Are you sure you’re ready for your surprise?” he asked, standing in front of a locked door at one of the spare quarters.

Ziva looked at him and to the door confused. “Are we moving in together or something?” she asked with a raised eyebrow.

“No!” he said. “Don’t be silly, I’d ask you first if you wanted to and not force it upon you.”

“Who said you’d be forcing anything on me? I have a large number of ways that I could say no too,” she pointed out. “Like withholding sex, beating you in sparring – again…”

He winced at that thought. “Yeah well, I’m used to women kicking my ass,” he nodded, referring to Teyla. “No, this surprise hasn’t got anything to do with us moving in.”

“Well?” Ziva asked, waving at the door so that he would open it as he blocked it from her. “Are you going to wait until Atlantis is taken hostage or something?”

John gently set her down on her feet. “You know, I already screwed up a surprise for you today, maybe this isn’t such a good idea…”

“John! What do you mean? You didn’t screw anything up – well that is one problem but not in the sense that you are thinking…Just – show me the surprise. I’m sure I will love it,” she said wrapping her arms around him.

“Happy early Birthday then.” he smiled and waved at the crystals to open the door for her.

Ziva walked in and turned the corner from the door, her mouth falling open. “Gibbs! Tony!” she exclaimed and turned in place to find John at the door looking sheepish. “You…” She couldn’t figure out which way to turn. Whether to hug her friends after not seeing them for so long, or John for pulling this surprise off.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Go hug them to death,” John smirked and sloppily saluted Gibbs and Tony. “Have fun, I need to…”

“Stay.” Gibbs looked at him.

“Okay, staying,” he shrugged and walked back in.

“You look good, Ziva.” Tony smiled widely and hugged her tightly.

She returned his hug blinking. “You too Tony. I simply am in shock…” she said before turning to hug Gibbs fiercely. “When did you two get here? How did you get here? The Daedalus just left last week…”

“You’re with a high ranking officer, what do you think he did?” Gibbs put his arms around Ziva. “You look good.”

“Something that likely cost him a lot of debts to some Generals,” she grinned. “Where is Abby and McGee?” she asked, turning around thinking they may had been hiding and she missed them in the excitement – which would be difficult considering Abby’senthusiasm.

“McGuardee is holding down the fort, Abby and Ducky couldn’t come as they don’t just work for our team, you know.” Tony shrugged.

Ziva oh’d and nodded understandably. “Have you seen much of the city yet? We really should show you around but…” she looked at John who had been quiet the whole time. “Do we have any missions coming up?”

John shook his head. “Like I said, Zelenka’s planning on doing maintenance on the Jumper, and I managed to get you a day or two off for your birthday, meaning that I’m ending up with a lot of paper work anyway.”

“I’m actually surprised you two are still together,” Tony said teasingly, which made him end up at the receiving end of Gibbs’ hand.

“Go show them around,” John smiled and walked towards Ziva to plant a kiss on the top of her head. “Catch up.”

“Okay,” she grinned. “Dinner later, yes?” she asked, as he walked out confirming their usual plans with the team.

“You’re still hungry after today?” John rolled his eyes. “Yes, dinner later.”

Sticking her tongue out she turned back to Tony and Gibbs, grinning at them happily. “Okay – um, has anyone shown you anything?”

“We’ve been taken care of, Ziva,” Tony nodded. “We saw the Gateroom, an office, mess hall and this room.”

John watched as Ziva walked off with Tony and Gibbs, talking a little more in depth about how much she missed them and about her life on Atlantis. He couldn’t help but feeling a little jealous about the way Ziva looked at Tony, but he knew that she was with him now, altough on the other hand John was worried that this visit would make her want to go back to Earth, just now that he had gotten used to the fact that Ziva was around him almost every waking (and not-waking) hour.

Almost he hadn’t arranged this for her, almost, because of the risk of her wanting to go back ‘home’. But it was her birthday, and she deserved something special.

Ziva showed her former teammates and friends some of her usual spots where she could be found on most days. Since they had started off where the guest quarters were located, she started with the gym areas, where Ronon and Teyla happened to be sparring together. She paused watching them for a moment and explained the style of fighting the best she could to where they (meaning Tony) would understand.

For a million years, Gibbs had never thought that such a thing as this existed, that was until that John Sheppard showed up claiming that aliens were the bad guys killing the marines. Since then, Abby and McGee had been trying to catch him up with most common science fiction things, but even compared to that fictional stuff, Atlantis was impressive. Ziva’s life – was impressive.

As they walked along, Ziva looked at her friends. “How are things at NCIS?” she asked. “The rest of the team?”

“Oh!” Tony said excitedly. “Abby and McGee are finally taking another try with a relationship.”

“Really? It’s about time,” she commented. “How about my replacement? Is he or she working out?”

“She is capable,” Gibbs answered before shooting an irritated glance at Tony. “She keeps trying to get into DiNozzo’s pants.”

Tony chuckled nervously and glanced sheepishly at Ziva with a shrug. “Nothing’s happened, really Boss,” he insisted.

“Apart from that time where you and her were on a stake-out and me and McGee came to relief you… you two were playing tonsil hockey.” Gibbs rolled his eyes.

“You know what hockey is boss?” Tony asked jokingly and jumped back before Gibbs could headslap him again.

“So things are about the same as when I left?” she grinned.

“No,” her former partner said. “Not the same. Far from the same. It could never be the same. You need to come back! McGee misses you!”

Ziva narrowed her eyes at him. “And I miss him too, but my life is here now…”

“Oh come on, it can’t be all that great.” Tony said.

“Tony,” Gibbs warned, shaking his head slightly to get him to back off. He knew that his protege still harbored unresolved feelings for her but when he did have the opportunity to act on them, he failed.

“What? We’ve been trying to get her back and even got Vance suspended over it, and yet she likes it here, but it looks as if she’s living in a dollhouse!”

Ziva turned and stared at Gibbs. “You got Vance suspended?”

Gibbs shrugged. “I pulled some strings, I apologized to him later, I just wanted to see if sending you off like that wasn’t a big scheme or another plan of his hidden agenda like the first time.”

She shook her head. “I’m sorry, but no. And I hate to tell you this but I really am happy here. I didn’t think that I would be, that I would even fit in, but it works for me.”

“I know you do, I’ve read your emails, and the emails you sent to Ducky and Abby,” he nodded. “We all miss you, but this is your new home. And you seem to be doing great.”

Ziva nodded slowly, happy that Gibbs understood that she was truly okay with the changes. “Thank you,” she said, glancing back at Tony who only stared back at her.

“Colonel, what are you doing?” Chuck asked, disrupting the train of thought – or horror – in John’s head.

“Nothing,” he said impishly.

“It looks to me that you’re stalking your girlfriend, sir,” Chuck said amused, “Does she know that you’re following her and her guests’ biometrics?”

“No,” John shook his head and exited the programme. “I’m not stalking her, I was just checking up on her.”

“You could just go and see her,” Chuck chuckled, shaking his head.

“Nah, she deserves some ‘me’ time with her former team mates and friends, they’re her early birthday present and I’ll see her at dinner anyway,” he looked at Chuck. “Spill it, how much did you win now?”

“Two hundred bucks sir,” Chuck smirked. “Dr. McKay wanted to bet that you wouldn’t use any of Atlantis’ system to check up on Ziva while you’re supposedly doing paper work. I proved him wrong.” he said smug.

“I see,” John nodded. “Well, I hope that my relationship with Ziva will continue to amuse you.”

“It sure will!” Chuck grinned as John left the control room and headed for his office.

Once in his office, he found Ziva there sitting on his desk, with Gibbs and Tony in chairs. “Hey,” he greeted them, “Enjoying the tour?”

She looked at him a little confused, and suspicious. “I thought you said you had paperwork to do,” she replied she poked at some files that sat next to her. “You were not here after we finished. I was just starting to consider bringing them to McKay…For the entertainment value…”

“Erm…isn’t he the guy that was with us in the car after we all met?” Tony asked.

“Yes,” she answered, looking at him with a smile.

John shrugged. “I was doing paper work, then I got distracted, let Chuck earn another 200 bucks and then went back here.” he nodded.

Ziva looked at him and made a face. “I don’t believe I want to know what the bet was this time but what is our cut?”

He held up a 50 dollar bill and smiled widely. “I love how Chuck’s so honest about the bets.” John lifted Ziva off his desk and kissed the top of her head. “I really need to finish that stack of papers.”

“Well it would have been done this morning if you didn’t bring me to meet your ascended ex-girlfriend,” she pointed out with a sweet smile before grabbing Gibbs and Tony to leave with her.

“She was never my girlfriend!” He sighed. “You still completely missed the point of that trip.”

Shaking her head, Ziva smiled back at John. “Actually I understood it quite well. You wanted me to see that there is still peace in this galaxy, and Ascended that did not completely ignore the people. We are going back to the gym because I feel like sparring with Ronon. See you later,” she said and trotted off.



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