Since awaking from their nap, Ziva was a bundle of nerves the entire evening as she dressed and worked on the tea to help settle her stomach that seemed to be all tied up in knots. The drive to the restaurant was relatively quiet apart from Steve’s reassurances that everything would be fine.
Walking into the entrance, she immediately caught sight of their friends and her fear jumped tenfold. Turning on her heel, she tried to slip past Steve. “I can’t do this. I changed my mind…I’ll tell them alone at work…”
Steve had somewhat anticipated this kind of reaction from her so he was quick to react and held her from running by her shoulders. “It will be fine. They already knew about the position and what has been offered to you. Other than DiNozzo throwing his fit that time, has anyone else said or did anything to cause you worry? I’m sure they believe it was only a matter of time after all the shit you and I both been through. The only new news is the baby, which I also believe everyone will love and accept. Please do not worry. I love you. They love you. Nothing will change that.”
She avoided his intense gaze as he tried to get her to look at him before nodding. “Alright,” she replied quietly, still appearing a little unconvinced all would be well. “I am sorry. You are right. I know. I just never expected something like this to happen like it has,” she added in a firmer voice, her hands motioning to her abdomen where their fetus was safely nestled inside her.
“I know. Come on. The sooner we do this together, the sooner you can finally relax and let this fear go,” Steve chuckled, gently guiding her further into the restaurant. As they got closer to the table, he slid his hand down her arm to hold her hand. Whispering into her ear as he leaned in to drop a kiss to his temple, he told her he loved her again.
Ziva smiled and nodded before turning her attention on their friends. “Hello everyone,” she greeted, her tone edged with uncertainty.
Abby seemed to know immediately exactly what her friend needed and she was out of her seat and ran around the tablet to wrap her up in her arms. “Oh! I’m going to miss you! You’re going to tell us that you finally said yes to Steve right? Of course it sucks that you won’t be here with the team but you need to do this. We can always visit and you can come back. This won’t be like that time that we will never ever mention. I know that and we will have to throw you a huge going away party! I have so much planning to do. I have to order the food, the balloons, and cake! Can’t have a party without cake!”
Chuckling, Ziva hugged her friend and blew out the breath she’d been holding. “Thank you and yes. I have decided to return to Hawaii with Steve, but please, no party Abby. You may consider this dinner to be a celebration of sorts…” She said carefully as she glanced around at their faces.
Feeling Steve’s hand on her back, she turned to smile up at him before sitting down into the chair he had pulled out for her. Looking at the faces of her friends, Ziva couldn’t help but to smile. Ducky smiled back at her knowingly. McGee and Tony grinned supportively, but her partner seemed to have an extra glint in his eye of suspicion. Gibbs smiled lightly but his eyes told her that he knew something else was up but wasn’t sure what.
Abby had her lips pressed together as if she struggled to keep her mouth shut, which for her was what was happening. Ziva looked back quickly at Ducky and he shrugged slightly, apologetically. “Well, apart from the transfer, I will eventually have to take some time off as well,” she started, looking back to Steve who only nodded for her to continue as he rubbed her shoulder. “Steve and I are um, well, we learned last night that we are expecting…”
A round of congratulations sprouted up while Gibbs continued to remain quiet. She wasn’t hurt by it as when everyone calmed down to shift their well wishes to Steve, he moved over to give her a hug. “I thought that might be the case as you haven’t kept anything down for some time. Are you sure about – everything?” he asked in the way only a father could to his child.
“Yes Gibbs. I am sure. Terrified, but very sure that this is the path I must go now. Of course we will visit and I do hope that you will as well,” Ziva replied.
“Of course. Wouldn’t have it any other way,” he smiled down at her before going to shake Steve’s hand.
When all finally settled and the group ordered their dinners, Steve leaned over to drop a kiss to Ziva’s neck. “I told you that everything would be fine,” he whispered.
She could only turn and grin happily, fully ready to begin the next part of their adventure together.
It took nearly the rest of the week to get the transfer paperwork in order on NCIS’ side before the couple could focus on packing and scheduling plane tickets. Between deciding what she should take or leave, helping Steve avoid Danny’s questions on how much longer it will be until he gets home, and trying to help Tony move into the second room, Ziva was exhausted as the guys kept trying to get her to rest. If they told her one more time that she needed to stay off her feet, she was going to choke one of them.
“Just because I am pregnant, does not mean that I am handicapped! I am going to be working on the team until the doctor tells me otherwise. If either of you tells me to take it easy one more time, I will choke you,” Ziva growled her warning as she glared at Tony and Steve who were each holding boxes that contained her favorite books that she wanted to be sent.
“We just don’t anything to happen to you or the baby,” Tony stupidly tried to explain which caused her glare to harden.
“The baby is no bigger than a pea, if that. Do not spout that nonsense to me because I will not hesitate to break both your legs and your arms and then you can talk to me about taking it easy.”
Steve gulped as he stared at his girlfriend, no, fiance. “Of course. I’m sorry Ziva, but you can’t blame us for reacting this way. We both just want to protect –.” He shut up quickly when her death glare shifted on him. “I know you can protect yourself but its just instinct…”
Sighing, Ziva turned and collapsed onto the sofa. “I understand that fully Steve and I know that I do have more to consider when I do anything, however you need to trust me to do what I feel is best for both me and this baby. When I am tired, I do go rest but as long as I am capable of going about my normal routines, please let me.”
Tony nodded and quickly passed his apologies on before running out of the apartment to go bring more of his boxes in, leaving his friends to talk amongst themselves. “I am sorry Ziva. All I can promise is to try to be more mindful of your wanting to do things,” Steve said once they were alone. “I can’t help but to want to do everything for you right now.”
“It is something that we have to learn together. It will take time. I know that,” she sighed as he settled next to her. “You won’t always be able to protect me in the field. And neither of us will always be there to protect this child.”
He huffed a tired laugh. “Yeah. I’m still trying to wrap my head around us becoming parents. Like you I don’t want to screw this up. I’m sorry for causing you this unnecessary added stress. It can’t be easy with the move to begin with.”
She smiled as she curled up next to him with a sigh. “We can only try our best. I have already come to realize that. We do not have much more here. Just my clothes and some small things. I can always have Tony send anything else I may have forgotten.”
“That is true. So anyway. I was thinking. We can just finish boxing things up here today and I know there is a flight that still has seats open for tomorrow. What say we go say our goodbyes tonight and leave tomorrow. I can talk to Tony about finishing things up here for us if you would like. Plus also, surprising Danny will help him stop blowing up our phones.”
Ziva couldn’t help but to laugh at that. “Yes he is quite anxious for your return. He does not yet know about us, correct?”
“Well he knows that I had planned on proposing. As far as anything else, I don’t think so. He is desperate to have Agent Jardine sent back though.”
“Nikki isn’t that bad. She is actually quite a capable agent despite her phobia,” she grinned.
“Maybe, but she’s not you. We’ve all been hoping that you would come since NCIS lost your Agent Owens.”
Ziva scoffed and slapped his chest with the back of her hand playfully. “Way to make me feel guilty for putting off agreeing with it for so long. It is not like it was an easy decision to make.”
Steve grabbed her hand and held it to him as he shifted so that he could look her in the eye. “I’m not saying it like that. I know and expected it to take some time. I didn’t want you to feel pressured into making a choice that you might regret later. If I’m going to be honest, I’m a little afraid even now that you will regret the transfer and engagement. Especially now with a baby added into the mix? It’s a lot of stress and I’m sorry for adding on with wanting you to take it easy. Could you at least not try to do so much lifting? For my sanity? I get everything you’ve said but I just want you to let me worry about the heavy stuff right now.”
She leaned in and kissed him when he was finished speaking and nodded. “You can do all the heavy lifting. I will get to be the boss and tell you what to do with it all.”
“You mean you weren’t telling us what to do anyway?” Tony joked as he walked back in, overhearing the end of the conversation. “Seriously though Zee-vah. Let us guys do the grunt work. That’s what we’re here for. I’m sorry too, for you know. Just tell me to shove it if or when I get to be too much. I already can’t thank you enough for letting me move in here. Saved me a lot of apartment hunting.”
“Sure, no problem Tony. Just keep any of your visitors out of my room. In fact, Steve? Could you go to the store and buy me a new lock for the door? Something not so easy to pick,” Ziva grinned and winked.
“Hey, hey. I promise not to go in there and I don’t really plan on bringing anyone back here except for the team for the occasional dinner and movie. You know me. I prefer to go to the chick’s place that way I can get up and run first thing in the morning!”
Both Steve and Ziva burst out laughing as they each threw a throw pillow from the couch at him. It didn’t take them long before they resumed their tasks for the evening before heading out together for one last night on the town in DC with friends.