Tangled Web

id="tagline">NCIS Fan Fiction Series - Story 4

A young couple was walking in Rock Creek Park on a Saturday morning. As they were hiking up a trail, the male partner noticed an awkward discoloring on a tree trunk.

"Come on," the woman said, "You don't need to pick up every piece of trash along the trail."

"Just doing my civic duty," the man answered. When he reached the tree, he noticed that it had been wrapped in several layers of cellophane. He then looked around the tree to find a female body, stripped naked, was tied to the tree with the wrap.

For the past few days, Ziva David had not been feeling well. She had been hit with bouts of nausea. The thing that comforted her stomach the most was her partner's Ohio State sweatshirt. As she took in his scent, she thought of what she and Tony DiNozzo had been through over the past several months.

They had started out as friends and confidants; now, they had developed a romantic relationship as well. Both of them were worried, rightfully so, about their romance affecting them in the office. So far, their relationship outside the office had improved their performance at work. They had always seemed to 'click' as teammates, even if they had a tendency of teasing each other. But now, out in the field, they each knew what the other was up to, and could complete each other's actions without needing a word. When they did talk to each other, Tony usually dropped a pop culture reference, or Ziva would take a jab at him in response. Outside the office, most nights, they would inevitably be together at each Ziva's apartment. Some nights, they would just cuddle and talk, while other nights, they would be a lot more passionate. In work and in romance, the two agents read each other perfectly.

While they knew each other very well, there were always secrets left to share. Ziva had been hiding her nausea for the past week, and she noticed that her normal menstrual period did not occur. She did not want anyone, not even her mate, to see anything 'wrong' with her until she could confirm it. She was about to take a home test when her cell phone rang. This could not have come at a worse time, Ziva thought as she answered the phone. "Agent David," she stated.

"Hey," Tony replied. "Boss man just called us out. Got a body in Rock Creek Park."

"Can you give me a few extra minutes? There's something important I need to do before I leave."

"Sure, sweetie." Tony answered. "By the way, have you seen my Ohio State sweatshirt?"

"It's here." Ziva did not explain the fact that she was wearing said sweatshirt, nor did she explain why.

"Okay," Tony answered. "Pick you up in 15?"

Tony and Ziva arrived to find Ducky and Palmer had already arrived. "Nice of you to join us, DiNozzos," Gibbs stated.

"Won't happen again," Ziva replied.

"What have we missed?" Tony inquired.

"Her name's Petty Officer Jaime Alvarez," Gibbs noted. "She's a person of interest in the latest Pentagon sex scandal."

"There's another one?" Tony quizzed surprisingly. "With all the scandals affecting the top brass, the press is going to have a field day with this."

"Got a time of death, Duck?"

"I'm good, Jethro, but I'm not that good. I have to wait for your tardy couple to finish photographing the scene."

Using their unspoken bond, Tony and Ziva quickly made up for lost time documenting the state of the body. Once they documented how the woman was found, Tony promptly got out his knife and cut the cellophane. Ziva helped make sure the wrap did not get contaminated as they removed and bagged the bindings. "You know, maybe we need to change rule 12. You're better off dating a co-worker. At least there's no national security implications."

"You and Ziva are the exception to the rule," Gibbs noted.

"If you got caught in a sex scandal," Tim added, "they would never find your body."

"Thank you, McObvious."

Once the body was untied to the tree, Ducky was able to ascertain how Petty Officer Alvarez expired. "Looks like a single GSW to the head. 9 millimeter. Looks like a possible powder burn, definitely a point blank shooting. I'm sure we can pull up GSR trace for Abby."

A familiar voice called from behind the crime scene. "Agent Gibbs!"

"Commander White," Gibbs stated, "what brings you here?"

"News about the body has made scuttlebutt already," Jacob White noted. "Admiral Pressman asked me to verify what was going on."

"I'm sure Fornell will be right behind you," Gibbs answered. The FBI had been heavily involved in the recent scandals, and his friend had unofficially briefed him on what the Bureau was up to. "The body is confirmed to be Jaimie Alvarez, single shot from a 9 mil at close range."

"Not good. She was connected to a promising candidate for a four-star billet. The president just pulled the nomination over the allegations."

While Gibbs was chatting with Jacob, Tony took to chatting with his partner. "You know, they could probably make a blockbuster out of all of these sex scandals."

"For once, you do not have a movie reference at the ready." Ziva retorted.

"In this case, the truth is stranger than fiction. Speaking of strange, Is there anything I should know about?"

"No, Tony," Ziva answered. She was not ready to explain herself, even to her partner.

"Okay," Tony replied. His gut was telling him that there was something hinky, but his heart told him that Ziva would tell him when she was ready. "You know, my door is always open for you."

"I know." Ziva was grateful that Tony was not pressing her for answers, even though he suspected something.

The FBI had become the central clearinghouse for the Washington sex scandal, meaning that Gibbs' friend Tobias Fornell had the lead on the case. Thus, once the evidence had been collected, the team was free, paperwork could wait until Monday.

Tony dropped Ziva off at her apartment, then proceeded to his own before calling his other partner.

"McGee,"

"Hey, Tim, could you come by my place. I need to talk to you about Ziva."

"It's been two months since Tel Aviv. Are you two having relationship problems."

"No, but my gut's telling me something is hinky."

"I'll be right over."

Half an hour later, McGee knocked on the door to Tony's apartment. Tony opened the door and greeted him warmly. "Hey, Tim. Thanks for coming over."

"Not a problem, Tony. I'm just surprised that you're having relationship problems. Everyone's noticed that the two of you have been in the zone lately."

"It's not so much as relationship problems as much as it is that Ziva's hiding something from me."

"Well, I have noticed that she's been a little pale lately," McGee noted. "She's also been clinging to your favorite sweatshirt."

"I've noticed that, too," Tony stated. "Classic indications of morning sickness. The thing is, if she is pregnant, why hasn't see told me?"

"Chances are," McGee stated, "that she wants to be absolutely sure before telling you. Have you talked to Tali? She probably knows more about Ziva than anyone."

"Not yet," Tony noted. "Kansas is playing this afternoon at 4:00, so she's probably at home getting ready to watch the game."

Tali was surprised when she heard her doorbell ring. "Tony!" she exclaimed as she answered the door. "What brings you to Baltimore."

"I wanted to talk to you about Ziva."

"Is there something wrong?"

"Well, you see, she's be acting kind of strange lately. This morning, we had to go out to do some field work."

"The girl in Rock Creek Park. It was all over the news, so sad."

"Well, she's normally very punctual when at work. This morning, she asked me to be late for her. I asked her if there was anything wrong, she denied it. I knew well enough not to press her further."

"Something tells me you have a hunch about what's wrong."

"McGee and I have noticed indications of Morning Sickness, and she's been hogging my Ohio State sweatshirt."

"Sounds like she's comforted by her man's scent," Tali noted. "I can live with that, even if it means she's not wearing the winning Jayhawk gear I gave her over the holidays." Tali couldn't help but jab Tony over the result of the recent Kansas-Ohio State match up.

Tony took the jab in stride as he admired her framed degree from the University of Kansas. "Speaking of which, I see you got the name changed on your diploma. Talia Lauren David?"

"When you've lived the last twelve years of your life under a different name, it's always going to be a part of you," Tali explained. "There's a lot of people out there that still know me as 'Lauren,' thus I kept it as my middle name. Now, as for Ziva, you know very well that she sometimes likes to keep things to herself. When she's ready to tell you, she will. I'm just curious, if she confirms what you're suspecting in your head, what will be your reaction?"

"I'd be a little scared," Tony noted. "But I would be willing to accept being a father. I'm starting to get used to being around kids."

"I take it Gibbs's daughter has rubbed off on you."

"Yeah," Tony replied, "and Tessa is like a little sister to Ziva  no offense to you, of course."

"None taken," Tali laughed. "Besides, I've taken a liking to her as well. I've been working on transitioning to DC. The Whites told me that Tessa's previous dance teacher was moving on, so they helped network me with the studio owner."

"What about your kids in Baltimore?"

"They're in good hands. They understand I want to be close to my family." Tali turned back to the reason Tony showed up at her door. "So, if Ziva is pregnant, will you stand by her?"

"Absolutely, 100 percent. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I've gone to the end of the Earth for Ziva, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

Gibbs had 'borrowed' his biological daughter from her foster family for a Sunday afternoon. They worked together on a woodworking project, hand-made sleigh beds for her and Tessa, with each of their names engraved on the headboard. As they got to know each other, Catherine 'C. J.' McCoy had found she definitely shared traits with her parents. Her flaming red hair came from her mother, former NCIS director Jenny Shepard, though Gibbs's mother was also a carrot top. The piercing blue eyes were undoubtedly her father's, and she learned how to intimidate school bullies with the 'Gibbs glare.' Another trait inherited from Gibbs was her love of working with her hands. She was already good at designing and creating parts of her wardrobe. Like her mother, she picked up on Gibbs's demonstration, and was working on her bed while Gibbs was alongside detailing the bed for her step-sister.

C. J. was taken aback a little when she saw Ziva come down the stairs unaccompanied. "Gibbs," she stated, "I know how you feel about apologies, but I wanted to do so anyway for making Tony late."

"Is there a problem between you and Tony?"

"No, it is nothing like that. It's just something very personal that I need to do with alone. Also, I have a doctor's appointment Monday Morning."

"You thinking you might be pregnant?" Gibbs inquired.

Ziva nodded her head to confirm his suspicions. "I took a home test yesterday morning. It came back positive. I was trying not to raise your suspicions. How could you tell."

"I noticed you fighting your bouts of morning sickness," Gibbs noted. "And McGee and DiNozzo probably saw it too. Ziver, you know that we will stand behind you, no matter what."

"I know, Gibbs. It's just, I'm not sure I am ready."

"Ziva," Catherine commented. "As an adoptee myself, I would understand if you don't want to keep your child. That being said, I think you would be a fabulous mother."

"Thanks for the support, C. J. I am just not sure if I could do this."

C. J. sensed Ziva's apprehension. "You can do this, Ziva, because you will not be doing it alone."

Ziva knew that C. J. was right.

Monday morning, the team was doing paperwork and analyzing the collected evidence in the Alvarez case. With the team one member short, they were fortunate to have the FBI doing the legwork on this case.

Gibbs headed to Autopsy to get a status report from Ducky. "What have we got, Duck."

"I can confirm that Miss Alvarez was killed between 2200 and 2359 Friday evening from a single gunshot wound to the head. I had blood work sent up to Abby for analysis. I also found traces of semen, which is not surprising, considering that she's involved in a sex scandal. Abby's running DNA as we speak."

As Abby was running the blood work on Jaimie Alvarez, Ziva had returned to work and came down to help the lead forensic scientist. "Hello, Abby," Ziva stated.

"I thought you had the morning off?"

"My appointment did not take that long. I figured that I could be of help down here. We do not need three agents pulling paper on the Alvarez case, and I am all caught up on my other paperwork."

"It's pushing paper, Ziva," Abby noted as the computer signaled her that the blood work had been completed. "Fornell is really going to love this."

"What is it, Abby?"

"Her hormones were way hinky. Looks like someone had a bun in the oven." Abby's comment caused Ziva's eyes to widen. Today, the doctors confirmed what she already knew. It would be a matter of time before she would have to tell the rest of the team, although, like her, they were starting to suspect it. Abby noticed that Ziva had suddenly lost color in her face. "You okay?"

Ziva was not okay. Although she had managed to mentally fight off the nausea she had been experiencing, the revelation that their murder victim was carrying someone's child caused her to lose the battle. Fortunately, she was close enough to a trash can that she was able to avoid making a mess in the lab. "Considering that I am seven weeks along myself, and this is the first time morning sickness has caused me to throw up, I am about as well as can be expected."

"Does anyone else know?" Abby inquired.

"I took a home pregnancy test on Saturday, and told Gibbs about my appointment on Sunday. Apparently, my efforts to hide my Morning Sickness did not fool Gibbs. I think Tony suspects as well."

"You had better tell Tony, pronto," Abby ordered. "He deserves to know right away."

Ziva knew that arguing with Abby Sciuto was an exercise in futility. She is right, after all, Ziva noted to herself.

Up in the bullpen, Tony and McGee were quietly working on their paperwork when Ziva stepped out of the elevator. "Well, look who finally showed up," Tony teased, acting as if Ziva simply overslept.

Ziva knew that Tony was teasing her, and that, deep down, he was concerned. She blew off his comment and was straight to the point. "Could I talk to you in private?" she asked.

"Sure thing, Zi," Tony answered, "I think McWriter can fly solo with the paperwork." Once gathered behind the stairwell, Tony put on his serious face. "So, what's the verdict?"

"Seven weeks," Ziva replied.

Tony's first reaction was to embrace his partner. As soon as he wrapped his arms around hers, he felt a familiar sensation in the back of his head. "I thought you two were going to keep the displays of affection out of the office."

"Won't happen again, boss."

"Good. I take it your appointment went well."

"The doctor confirmed what we already knew," Ziva answered.

"Take the day as comp time, both of you. I don't need three agents to do paperwork on one case."

Tony and Ziva had an early lunch together. As they were waiting on their food, they locked onto each other in awkward silence. While they were silent, their eyes spoke volumes. Both loved the other unconditionally. They were both scared about becoming parents, but they both realized they wanted to keep their child. "I guess the question is, where do we go from here? Should we move in together? Should we get married."

"No!" Ziva exclaimed at the thought of marriage. "I love you very much Tony, but I do not feel the need to rush ourselves into a marriage. I don't want you to even think of proposing to me right now."

"Take all of the time you need," Tony replied. "No matter what, I will be there for you, and for our little assassin baby."

Ziva couldn't help but smile at her partner's remark. "You know, this is all your fault," she teased.

"My fault! How is it my fault."

"We're both adults here, we know how it goes. You put your man-parts into my territory."

"And you invited me into that territory," Tony retorted.

"You seduced me with your honey dust. You were the one who wanted to sleep with me. I trusted you!"

"Well, what about our Mossad counterparts. They encouraged me to come on to you. Hell, they gave us that honey dust."

"Still, I'm carrying this child, and you are its father. Therefore, it is your fault."

Tony smiled, knowing there's no way he would win this argument. "Guilty as charged. Do you still trust me?"

"Yes, Tony. You did not betray me like others have. You are just the first one that ever got me pregnant."

"Ziva, you and I will get through this. We will be fine."

"You have something new, Duck?"

"Yes, Jethro. Abby ran the blood work on Miss Alvarez and found an indication that she was with child. I confirmed her findings and sent her a DNA sample from the fetus."

"So, our dead petty officer was involved in a sex scandal and became pregnant."

"If the Admiral was the father of Miss Alvarez's child, the pregnancy would have made the affair public if it wasn't already. This isn't the first time a pregnant woman has crossed my table," Ducky noted.

"No, it isn't," Gibbs answered.

"Speaking of women with child, I heard that congratulations are in order for Ziva and Anthony."

"Scuttlebutt travels fast," Gibbs stated. "and yes, it is true."

Gibbs entered Abby's lab and turned down the sound. Unlike most trips to the lab, he did not have a cup of Caf-POW for his forensic scientist. "What do ya got, Abs."

"The DNA tests on the semen and fetus have come back. The semen came back to Admiral Glen Farabaugh."

"The latest military man with a sex scandal."

"A man whose mistress was carrying his child. I've already called Fornell and Commander White."

"I'm sure that they will have a field day with this," Gibbs commented. "Now, you and I need to talk about spreading gossip."

"It's not gossip, Gibbs. Ziva told me herself."

"I know, Abs, but I'm sure that Ziva would have wanted to tell everyone the news herself."

That evening, Ziva was relaxing at home when the doorbell rang. The person on the other side of the door was the last person she expected. "Shalom, Ziva. May I come in?" Tali stated.

"Sure," Ziva replied, still somewhat shocked. "What brings you to DC?"

"I'm transitioning to a new studio here," Tali noted. "I wanted to be closer to family."

"Just because we are back in each others' lives, it does not mean you have to move."

"I know, but it is something I want to do. Besides, It's a step up for me. My new job is with a well-known studio in DC., plus I have Tessa as one of my students."

"How is she doing?" Ziva asked.

"She's truly one of the best in the class. I have to wonder who has given her some advice," Tali teased. Singing had been Tali's first love, to her, dance would always belong to her big sister. "Also, Tony came by my place on Saturday. He told me about you maybe having a little one."

"Seven weeks," Ziva confirmed. "I visited the doctor this morning."

"So, how are you feeling?"

"A little nervous," Ziva noted. "I finally succumbed to morning sickness in Abby's lab."

"How about Tony?"

"Seeing as how my pregnancy is the worst kept secret at NCIS, he's taken the news well. We are both willing to become parents, we are just not sure if we are ready to be parents."

"You can't ready yourselves for motherhood. Most of my friends from college have settled down and have children. A lot of the time, baby number one came unexpectedly, but almost all of them said that it's the best thing that ever happened to them. Now, I have to ask, did Tony propose?"

"Actually, when he brought up marriage, I said that I was not ready."

"If that's what you want, than I can't object to that. You'll know it when you're ready to get married."

Ziva gave her sister a glowing smile.

Tuesday morning, Navy Admiral Glen Farabaugh was a 'guest' of Agents Gibbs and Fornell.

In the other room, Tim and Ziva were watching the interrogation. "So, Ziva," McGee said, "how did your appointment go?"

"It went well," Ziva replied, figuring that Tim knew, or suspected, that she was with child. "I am healthy, and so is the baby."

"That's good. How did Tony handle the news?"

"Surprisingly well," Ziva said. "I do not think he will try to kill me."

Fortunately, Tim knew that she was making a reference to their suspect, and not suggesting that DiNozzo would ever think of harming his partner. "You do realize that you're going to have to go easy  handle paperwork, observe suspects, maybe help Abby out in the lab."

"I'm sure the two of you will be able to go on without me in the field," Ziva replied. Even though she knew that she would be riding her desk, she actually found it a slightly refreshing change. "And I am sure Dorneget will give you an extra hand in the field."

The door to the interrogation room opened. Tim and Ziva looked to see who was entering. "I think the Probie's probie is ready for the ultimate test: working a murder scene. It looks like I know what's on tap tonight on ZNN. We caught our murderer red-handed."

"What color were his hands before?" Ziva queried.

Tony simply smiled. He knew, and was actually expecting, his partner to respond that way. It was a variation of a movie line. "I think our baby deserves a healthy dose of The Great Muppet Caper."

"We know you had an affair with Petty Officer Alvarez," Gibbs stated. "Your DNA was found on the victim. Hell, she was carrying a child you fathered. Your career as a Navy officer is done. Continuing to lie about it is not going to help you."

"I want my lawyer," was all the disgraced admiral could say.

"I bet you do," Fornell quipped as he and Gibbs walked out of the interrogation room.

After the lawyer had arrived, Gibbs and Fornell continued their interrogation. Unfortunately for them, although they could confirm the affair, they had nothing on his mistress's murder. He also had an ironclad alibi for that Friday night.

Ziva and Tim sought and obtained the Admiral's bank and phone records. Although they were able to reinforce the affair between the two, they could not show any indication that he paid a hit man.

"There must be something we have missed," Tony noted to his co-workers in the bullpen.

"What about the cellophane wrap?" Ziva wondered aloud. "Did we ever get any prints off of that?"

"No, but we never checked it for prints," Tim noted. "It's still in the evidence garage. I'll work with Abby to get prints off of it."

"In the meantime, Ziva and I will compile a list of everyone that might have have a grudge against Farabaugh and/or Alvarez."

"So, where do you want to start."

"With the wife, of course."

"You always say it's the wife," Ziva noted.

"That's because a jilted lover is a dangerous thing. Look at Gibbs and his ex-wives."

"Be very careful, Tony," Ziva teased. "You know you're playing with fire."

"And I'm enjoying every minute of it," Tony quipped as he began his search.

While Tony and Ziva checked into those that would have something to gain with Admiral Farabaugh disgraced, Tim and Abby checked the prints on the cellophane via the superglue method. The wrap was cut into manageable pieces, then placed in a Plexiglas chamber, where vaporized superglue attached itself to fatty acids left behind where the suspect touched the cellophane.

The search for fingerprints turned out to be surprisingly fruitful. They found multiple prints on the wrap, all were a match for each other. The best of the prints were used to identify the suspect. First, they checked the prints against Admiral Farabaugh, which came back negative. Upon being notified, Gibbs and Fornell released the Admiral and checked for status updates.

"There's a lot of potential candidates for this billet," Tony noted. "We've run down most of them, and they have solid alibis."

"Abby is still running the prints from the cellophane through the DoD database."

"Good job," Gibbs replied. "It's the end of the day. You two, go home, get some rest. Be back here tomorrow ready to finish checking with your persons of interest."

"Got it, Boss," Tony answered as he and Ziva bee-lined toward the elevator.

As soon as Ziva returned home, she heard her doorbell ring. She was not surprised to see the person on the other side. When they headed out of the office together, Tony had sensed a longing for companionship in his partner. "Hey, Ziva," he said. "I figured you wanted me to come over."

"Shut up, Tony," she replied as she headed for the DVD cabinet. Tony had left a good chunk of his movie collection for them to watch together. Tonight, Ziva picked out North by Northwest. Without another word, she loaded the disc in the DVD player and sat down on the couch as the DVD menu loaded. Ziva shot a look, sending a message straight to Tony. Tonight, I need a companion to cuddle me.

As Tony joined her on the couch, his eyes shot straight back. On your six, sweet cheeks.

Tony and Ziva arrived back at work together, both with bright smiles on their faces. "I see both of you had a good time last night," Tim noted as they came in.

"Not in the way you're thinking, McGutter," Tony retorted.

"Why do men always think about sex first?" Ziva added in.

"Good question," Gibbs answered as he entered the bullpen. "Got a hit on our fingerprints overnight. Our new suspect is commander Daniel Warrington. McGee, Ziva, full background check on this guy. DiNozzo, with me. We're going to pay him a visit."

"On it, Boss," Tony responded as he followed Gibbs into the elevator.

"Movie night?" Gibbs inquired as the elevator doors closed.

"Only one of Hitchcock's finest."

Gibbs and DiNozzo arrived at the house of the commander. He knocked on the door. A young woman answered. "May I help you?"

The agents presented their badges. "Special Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo, NCIS," Gibbs stated. "We're have a few questions for Commander Warrington."

"He didn't come home last night," the woman responded. "He was probably out with his buddies drinking."

As Gibbs continued to ask the woman questions, Tony noted movement out of the corner of his eye. "Boss, got a bogey at your 8 o'clock." As Gibbs turned to check, the man made a run for hit. Tony rushed into action, chasing after the suspect. Tony was able to catch up and tackle him in less than half a block. "I take it you're not used to running," Tony quipped.

By the time Gibbs and Tony had returned to the Navy Yard, Ziva and Tim had found some history on the Commander. "Looks like you've got a lot of connections, commander. You were Admiral Farabaugh's adjunct. It seems you also knew Petty Officer Alvarez as well."

"Well, of course I knew the Petty Officer," Commander Warrington noted. "Just not in the same way the Admiral did."

"I beg to differ," Tony replied. "It seems that your wife suspected you were cheating on her. She happened to hire a private investigator. It seems that you and the Petty Officer had been spending a little too much time together."

"So, these pictures don't prove that I had an affair with her."

"Maybe not, but we found Miss Alvarez tied to a tree with cellophane. Next time you wrap a dead body, you might try to wear gloves."

When shown proof that his fingerprints were found at the scene of the body dump, the Commander confessed to killing and disposing of the Petty Officer. He stated that he had been sleeping with Alvarez after she had a one-night stand with the Admiral. He had gone ballistic when he found out she was pregnant. He had tipped off the FBI about the Admiral's affair, then attempted to set him up for murder.

Friday night, Tali invited Tony and Ziva to a piano bar near her new workplace. "Open mic night," DiNozzo noted. "Does this mean I get to hear that famous singing voice that Ziva has told me about?"

"You'll see," Tali responded. "Are you treating my big sister right?"

"Is there no other way to treat the lovely Ziva David," Tony retorted, "and live to tell about it."

"He has been very good to me," Ziva assured her little sister.

"I can tell," Tali stated as she motioned the bartender to start her drink order.

After the trio ordered their first round of drinks, they returned to their conversation. It had been the first time they had a chance to be together since Tony and Ziva returned from Tel Aviv. Tali and Tony exchanged friendly barbs regarding their alma maters, and they discussed work, favorite movies, and politics.

During the conversation, a young man approached them. "Hey, Sam, this is my sister Ziva and her boyfriend, Tony. Tony, Ziva, this is Sam. He's the piano player here.

"I promise not to shoot you," Tony quipped.

"Much obliged," Sam stated, understanding the pop culture reference before turning to Tali. "I'm ready to try out that song your friend wrote."

"Great, I know that these two are just dying to hear me."

"You mean to tell me they haven't heard you sing."

"I just got back in touch with Ziva a couple months ago," Tali noted. "She hasn't heard me sing in over a decade."

"Well, then, let's get you up on stage," Sam noted as he headed to the piano.

Tali confidently walked up to the microphone. "For those of you that don't know me from previous 'open mic' nights, my name is Tali Lauren. This first song tonight was written by a friend I met in Kansas. Her name's Lisa Donnelly, and she's a great singer-songwriter. I hope I do this song justice." Tali took a deep breath as Sam began the song. The song began with a four-measure 'hook' that belonged on the piano. On the fifth measure, Tali began the first verse.

"I'm stuck at a dinner party
next to a woman I don't know.
Her perfume's bold as her dress,
She's really old, and yet she won't stop going
on and on about where I'm going
She says 'tell me your time and date of birth
and I'll ready your story in the stars.
Your tangled mess will make more sense
when you find out who you are.'
So, baby if you know what's good for ya'
ya' gotta listen to me."

"Sex and money make the world go 'round.
Breathe in when you're feeling down
Speak softly but stand tall,
and laugh at it all.
Open your heart and close your legs
They only want what makes 'em beg.
Get hurt and then do it again
and laugh at it all."

Tali looked at Ziva, and noticed that the sparkle in her eyes had become brighter. As she began the second verse, she gazed over at her big sister. I promise you, this will not be the last time you hear me perform.

After completing the number, the audience gave her a standing ovation. As she returned to her table, Tony gave her some positive feedback, "Have you ever considered singing professionally? Our boss has a saying: 'You don't waste good.'"

"I know I'm good," Tali answered, "but I'm also good at, and enjoy, my day job. Guess which one pays better."

"Touché," Tony stated.

"I also know you're pretty good on the ivories."

Tony nearly choked on his drink. "What makes you say that?"

"Come on, you have a baby grand. You don't invest in such a fine instrument without using it." It was true that DiNozzo still had his piano, and that he did play it at times to unwind, but he had never played for his friends, let alone the public. "It's time for you to break out."

"What do you mean?" Ziva asked.

"For starters, if Tony really wants to be there for the mother of his child, time to himself is going to be scarce."

"Are you suggesting that I move in with Ziva?" Tony replied. "What am I going to do with my baby grand?"

"It can stay right where it is," Tali teased. "I know someone who's looking for a place in the DC area, and she'd be more than happy to take over your lease and look after your prized possession."

Oh, boy, Tony thought, this girl has an answer for everything. "You would be willing to do that?"

"I've already taken a new job in DC to be closer to Ziva. This is just the next step."

"I think it's a wonderful idea," Ziva answered. Although she wasn't ready to get married, there was a need burning within her to be closer to her mate.

"Now, as for you, DiNozzo," Tali stated as she slapped the back of his head. "Get out there and show us what you can do."

"Geez, it's bad enough getting slapped by Gibbs," Tony commented. However, he did comply, lest he face the wrath of both David sisters.

Sam the piano player yielded his seat to Tony. "Tali thinks you could be a 'killer,'" he stated.

"Does she now?" Tony answered. "Well, then, I know exactly what to play." As the guest warmed up on the bar's piano, DiNozzo channeled the great Jerry Lee Lewis. He looked as his companion as he began to play Great Ballsof Fire. He kept his eyes locked on Ziva as he began the first verse.

"You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will, oh what a thrill
Goodness gracious, great balls of fire"

As Tony completed the song, it was his turn to receive a standing 'O.' "Wow," Tali said. "You dove in head first, and you killed it, all right. You know, if Baby DiNozzo doesn't become a kick-ass NCIS agent, he or she might have a future as a musician."

As Tali and Tony continued to banter, Ziva noticed how Tali had managed to bring the best out of her partner. It was clear that she liked him, and they just 'clicked.' Ziva saw her co-workers at NCIS, especially Tony, as an extended family. Tali had accepted this new family, and they had accepted her.

Finally, when she looked at her partner, Ziva realized that Tony was truly her partner in everything. They were about to start a family of their own, whether they were ready or not. Their logical minds were still uncertain about it, but their hearts and their gut instincts were all in. It would still be a bumpy road, and Ziva planned to take it slow; however, this was a road she does not regret taking.