She was currently being cuddled and swung around by Tony at the altar, and Gibbs gave a small smile when the child squealed in excitement. He’s gradually fallen more and more in love with the little sounds that Ellie makes since her birth in the bullpen three and a half years ago.
She’s exactly like her father in the talking department, she’s rarely ever quiet, but she’s multilingual like her mother, so he tends to bite his tongue when he can’t understand her, but it’s beautiful to hear her talent of speaking at least half of the languages that Ziva does. His granddaughter is going to grow up into an amazing young woman that any guy would be lucky to have, once Ziva and Tony give whichever man it turns out to be a thorough checking over. He only hopes he can still be around come the day his first grandchild walks down the aisle. Hell, he’ll be just as proud of her as he is of her parents today.
He politely shakes the hand of Senior when the man comes over for a brief chat in excitement that his son ‘finally bit the bullet and is marrying the beautiful Ziva.’ He agrees, it’s been a long awaited journey between the two, something he had been against at the start; and in some way he’s very pleased he was, because he got to witness the gradual falling in love the two did, and if he’d dropped the rule say, not long after Ziva arrived, then he’s 100% certain he wouldn’t be walking Ziva down the aisle and giving her away to Tony today.
He leaves the older DiNozzo behind, and stalks over to the Junior who is talking animatedly with his daughter in his arms, constantly changing his expression to fit whatever the young girl was telling him. Tony’s never been more in his element than when he is occupying his little girl; he is exactly the father he knows Ellie needs. Smart, funny, entertaining but capable of being a discipline area. Ziva is much the same, except she takes a calmer approach to things, and tends to be less of an entertainer and more of a relaxed and sideline observer of a mother. Ellie really does have the best of both worlds.
“Hey Boss. Ziva ok?”
He nods, she’s doing perfectly fine, but he’s almost positive she’s close to hitting Abby because of all the Goth’s fussing. Abby means well, but he and Tony both know that Ziva hates being fussed over, whether it’s her wedding day or not. “She’s fine.”
Ellie fidgets in her father’s arms as she grabs hold of the top of his tie, and Tony softly begins to sway her in his arms and grabs hold of one of her hands and keeps it in his to occupy her. She does tend to enjoy pulling things apart, especially pieces of clothing thanks to getting to play with Abby’s chains and necklaces and whatever else Ellie can get her hands on.
He nods again, that’s partly the reason he brought the kid out here, she picked up on it, and Ellie isn’t one to deal with tension well. Bit of a laugh with her father tends to defuse any unpleasant feelings or thoughts she has. Besides, it’s a little hectic back there, not the place for a three year old.
“She nearly ready though? Guests are getting a little antsy.” Gibbs gets the immediate hidden message, Tony is getting antsy. Understandable. They had planned to marry two months ago, but a terrorist threat and Ziva’s kidnapping had kind of got in the way of that, and Tony had been apprehensive of leaving her alone ever since. He and Ellie had been without fiancé and mother for four days, so Gibbs resists the urge to head slap the concern out of his agent.
“She’s nearly ready. Just need my granddaughter to come get her flowers.”
“Hey, Ella Belle, you gotta get your basket with those flowers in, so you can do that special assignment me and mommy asked you to do. Remember?”
The child nods eagerly in her father’s arms, and Tony hands her over to his Boss and straightens his suit again. “Where it, Granpa?”
Tony speaks first and tickles Ellie’s torso slightly making the child giggle. “It’s with Mommy and Aunt Abby, sweetheart. Can I get a kiss before you go?” The child nods and Tony notices the slight eye roll she does, that is similar to one Ziva used to do. It’s very cute. He over exaggerates as he kisses her cheek sloppily ensuring to make a sound as he does. He gets the response he was looking for. “Dadddyy!”
“Come on Elle. Let’s go. Good luck DiNozzo.”
He straightens his jacket again to disguise his nerves as he watches Gibbs carry Ellie away from him. He’s gonna marry Ziva in a matter of minutes, and he’s freaking terrified. They never really understood the need for marriage, they both longed for permanence and a family for years before getting together, and then Ziva got pregnant a year into their relationship and parental responsibility took over; and then last year a few months before their daughter’s third birthday he popped the question on their monthly date night and she said yes.
Now is the time to make it official, and he’s ready just as he knows she is, and he’s got everyone he needs behind him and Ziva for this. The front rows consist of Ducky, Vance and his kids Kayla and Jared, Jimmy and Breena and their son Brutus, a friend of Ellie’s, Tony’s father, Schmeil and two unoccupied chairs for McGee and Gibbs.
McGee taps Tony on the shoulder, knocking him out of his thoughts, and he turns to face him. “You ok, Tony?”
“Yeah, yeah, fine.”
“Finally got your chance to marry Ziva. It’s still what you want isn’t it?”
What the hell gave him that idea? “Of course I still wanna marry her. What’d make you think that?”
“You just... seem a little preoccupied.”
He smiles, and tries to reassure his best man. “I’m just thinking about me and Ziva... Everything we’ve been through over the years; we still come out on top Tim. I actually get her, and then I get Ellie. I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but god, I’m the luckiest man alive McGee.”
McGee claps him on the shoulder; “Because you’re a good guy, Tony. You’ve always put her first, no matter how you felt or whether it broke your heart. That’s why you deserve this.”
The back lounge area is where Gibbs and Ellie return to after leaving Tony, and the little girl leaps out of her Grandfather’s arms and jump starts straight to her mother sat down on the couch in her floor length gown. “Mama!!”
Gibbs rolls his eyes playfully, she’s been away from her mother no more than twenty minutes, she’s extremely attached to her parents. Ziva leans forward as the child places her hands on her mother’s knees, and Ziva briefly runs her hands over her daughter’s hair as she smiles. “Neshomeleh, did you have fun with your father?”
“Yep. We danced a ‘ittle, coz Daddy teached me for later.”
Ziva never tires of the small stories of Daddy-daughter interactions, because her soon-to-be husband is determined to create as many fun memories for their girl as he can, and that’s one of the countless things she loves about him. “That is fantastic. You can dance with Daddy and I later. Does that sound fun?”
“Yep. Can I danced with Granpa, and Aun’ Abby, and Uncle ‘Gee and Bruwtus too?”
“Of course you can.”
Attempting to avoid having to remove the child again to relax, Abby hands her a glittery silver purse that she and Ziva had given her earlier this morning that held some beads and soft coloured tissue, she had been quite jealous of all the ‘presents’ her mother was getting, so Abby being quick witted had created the small purse to satisfy her. With the child pleasantly distracted by that and her Aunt Abby, Gibbs picked up a small box and stalked over to Ziva.
“Here.” He passes the box over, and Ziva silently raises an eyebrow in question when he sits beside her. There’s a little note on top of it, but it’s her name scribbled in Tony’s writing, not Gibbs’. She curiously lifts the note and reads the message.
Z, this is something I hope you’ll wear today, I feel it represents our transition into who we became, T.
She places the note down and carefully opens the box. Inside lays a small yellow rose tipped with red edges, the first flower Tony had given her on their very first date. She brushes her thumb over the petals as the memory of how she first received the flower fills her mind.
She lifts the flower to her nose to hide the smile as she briefly looks out to the Potomac. Such a beautiful sight at night. “What is this?”
“Well, it’s a rose.” Following his lead, she playfully rolls her eyes. She knows what it is and knows what it represents, she’s just waiting for him to admit it to her. She recognises the yellow of the flower to mean friendship, that’s something they have. A very strong friendship at that. The red however- “I was trying to decide on one particular flower to get, and uh, I thought this one was quite fitting.”
Ziva is surprised by the amount of nerves radiating from him in this moment; he’s been as he would say ‘on top form’ tonight, he took her to a nice Indian restaurant after work and brought her for a peaceful long night walk along the Potomac. A very simple night, but Ziva appreciated simple, and it was more about the company for her, and Tony was certainly good company. Their first date has been much easier than either of them ever expected; she puts that down to being friends for years beforehand.
“Uh, heh. The yellow represents friendship; and considering you’re... my best friend, and I hope that I’m yours, that’s what that’s for.” She swallows the urge to interrupt him and confirm that he is indeed her best friend, and instead looks down at the rose again whilst brushing her fingers over the tips. “And uh, the red?”
He hesitates, she notices, and she knows the reason why, red means- “Falling, in love.”
A sheepish smile coats her face and she doesn’t bother to hide it, they both know where they stand on this matter. They’ve had a discussion, an albeit brief but frank one on the subject, but feelings have been addressed.”It’s beautiful. Thank you, Tony.”
Her hair clips the side of her face when a cool breeze hits them and she watches silently as Tony grabs the rose and uses it as a hair clip on the right side of her head. She instantly feels like one of those girls in his movies where they fall in love with a guy they meet and it’s a soppy scene in Central Park or somewhere and they kiss and fireworks fill the sky, metaphorical of course.
“Viola! Perfect.” She likes how his hand remains playing with her hair momentarily after he’d fixed the rose there, and she drinks up the touch for as long as he does it. He’s taken to touching her a little less in recent weeks, she’s not sure why, but she’ll put it down to self control, seeing as they have yet to start the physical side of their new intimate relationship.
She didn’t see the metaphorical fireworks when they kissed on the bench that night; she considers that she never will because she doesn’t believe in that kind of thing. He can certainly make her heart race, her palms sweat and her toes curl when he wants to, but she doesn’t need the fireworks behind the lids because he is more than enough for her.
“You want that in your hair?”
Ziva sheepishly nods and hands the flower over to Gibbs. He manoeuvres her curled hair on the right and tucks the rose in; securing it with a small bobby pin she passes him. “It is, from Tony.” He doesn’t say a word, and he doesn’t have to, she just wants to share the story behind the rose with someone, and he’s the nearest. “He bought me one on our first date... Friendship and um, and love... Accurate description huh?”
A ghost of a smile appears on his lips for a moment; “It’s beautiful. Suits you.”
The moment of surrogate father and daughter bonding is cut short when a bunch of bright brown curls come bouncing towards them and head straight for Ziva’s lap. “Mama! Look what Aun’ Abby gaved me.” The young girl holds out her left wrist showing off a corsage with mahogany ribbon fastened under the flower and around her small wrist.
“That is gorgeous, did you thank Aunt Abby for it?”
“O course, mommy.”
“It’s time, Ziva.” She kisses Ellie on the head and silently watches Abby take the young girl out of the room, she’ll walk down the aisle first, followed by Abby then finally her and Gibbs. She takes a deep breath and allows herself to be pulled up by her adoptive father’s hand, he’s about to give her away to the love of her life and the lining of her stomach feels like it’s being punched by a thousand men at war.
He walks her over to the double doors, and they stand in silence with her left arm folded in his right waiting for the moment that she’s called to her destiny so to speak. “Nervous?”
She nods; “Yes.”
“He loves you.”
She smiles because she knows the truth when she hears it, and she knows with her heart and soul, with everything she has that Tony loves her. She’ll never doubt it. “I know.”
The double doors slowly begin to open and Ziva grips Gibbs’ arm tighter as the corridor to the garden comes into view. “Let’s get you married, David.”