The next several minutes went by in a blur. One moment Ziva was laying on the hospital bed in the emergency room, the next she was somewhere else in the hospital, in a gown, screaming for dear life every few minutes. If that wasn’t scary enough, the expression on everyone’s face around her – and John’s friend keeping him out of the room – she wasn’t sure that the baby would be very healthy. If it survived being born considering the way she had cared for herself the previous months leading up to that moment.
“What is wrong?” Ziva asked, looking around wildly.
“Your li’l one’s heart beat is slower than it should be, even for a preemie,” Carson explained as he sat down at the foot of her bed and reviewed the tests that the nurses were showing him.
“Well how far along am I?” she asked.
He looked at her and shook his head. “It’s hard to say with this technology lass. From what I could see, it’s very possible that you are full term, if shy by maybe two or three weeks. An infant could survive, but without proper prenatal care and your profession…”
She nodded understanding that severity of the risks and sighed. “Where is John?”
“He is out in the waiting room with the rest of your team. I want to get you and the baby stabilized first. He would only get in the way,” Carson smiled. “Just lay back and relax. We will get you some pain medication. You still have a little bit to go yet, but you are almost there.”
Ziva closed her eyes as she tried to digest all the information. She was about to be a mother – maybe. The thought alone was enough to leave her feeling dizzy even as she laid there. All she could really think about then as well, was John being at the mercy of Gibbs and Tony.
Down the corridor, John paced the small area of the floor that the men were restricted to waiting. He couldn’t be more pissed at Carson then for keeping him away. It was his girlfriend, his child that he was working on. John deserved – no, he was meant to be there at her side to help her through everything.
The cold pack that the nurses tried to give him for his face sat on the end table next to where Gibbs sat, warming to the room temperature. He just didn’t care about anything but what was happening in the room down the hall.
Tony was glaring at John. Not only was he a stubborn ass for not letting the nurses come near him, he was also the one who was screwing his partner and had knocked her up. He wanted to confront John badly, but there were two reasons … no three, why he didn’t. Ziva had made her choice, obviously, Gibbs would kill him and third, John would kill him too.
“So Carson? He’s your doctor?” Tony carefully asked.
“Yeah. He took care of me for years and patched me up after we returned from our base being destroyed,” John said, kicking a chair across the hall. “I thought he was my friend too… I should be in there,” he said, pointing into the general direction of the room where Ziva was.
“You need to get yourself checked out,” Tony reasoned. “I know you don’t want to in case she needs you, but you look like hell man. You could have broken something.”
“As I told Ziva and Carson, I will let myself get checked out after I know she’s fine.”
Gibbs shook his head as he looked up at the man. “What good are you going to be to her if you aren’t? If she or that kid needs your help, you won’t be much good to them all busted,” he said.
“It’s just my face… and my sight is slowly returning, I’m fine for now,” John kept pacing and nearly tripped over the chair he had just kicked away. He kicked it again. “I don’t want to wait!”
“For now? That chair didn’t give you that bruise on your face Sheppard…”
“No, that sadist did. I don’t care. I’m not going to… what if…” he took a deep breath as he felt a panic coming on. What if Ziva would die giving birth? He knew he couldn’t handle that. But Carson was with her, she’d be fine, but what if? “I need to know she’s fine before I let someone have a look at me, Gibbs. I need that,” John looked at the other man.
He let out a breath as he looked up at him. “She will make sure you are there when its time. I doubt that your friend would dare to argue with her if he knew what she was capable of.”
“Besides, we’d like to have you around longer,” Tony said warmly. “If you lose your eyesight for good we lose a valued member of our team.”
John spun around and stared at Tony. He was surprised and as far as he could tell, so was Gibbs.
“I think that apart from Abby and McGeek, you and Ziva can show Gibbs that rule twelve can be a good thing as well. I doubt either one of us would have survived what you have endured with Ziva today.” Tony got up and put his hands on John’s shoulders. “Let yourself get checked out, Sheppard. I don’t want Teyla to kill me.”
“Fine,” John sighed. “If you put it that way…” He looked at him and nodded. “Thanks Tony.”
“No problem. Hey…where did McGee go?” he asked, looking around. Tony had been so distracted by his own issues with the situation that he missed his own partner disappearing on him.
“I got us coffee,” McGee came walking in. “And called Abby and Ducky. They’re calling Teyla and make sure that once Ziva’s stable that she can get transferred to Bethesda.”
John couldn’t help but to laugh. “She thought as much as we were on our way here,” he said as he scratched the back of his head. “Thanks,” he added as he took his coffee and a hearty sip.
Gibbs took the coffee from John. “Not until you’re cleared.”
“You’re a cruel man!” John complained as he reluctantly went to find a nurse, who in turn found him a doctor.
“Easy there. Just breathe through it Ziva,” Carson said as he had his head tucked under the blanket as he examined her further.
“You try to breathe when you have something shoving its way through your ass,” she snapped. “Where is John? He needs to be here. I need him here!” she started to cry as she collapsed back against the bed after the contraction passed.
“Not until I’m certain of your wee one’s position, now calm down,” Carson said as he yet again grabbed the scanner.
Ziva laid her head down and closed her eyes. “Please don’t make me beg…Just get him in here or take me in for surgery to get it out. Just – do something! I can’t go through any more,” she said shaking her head.
He only smiled as he continued to examine her. Reaching up he felt around over her upper and lower abdomen. “Did you notice any other changes? Because I had read and seen photos of you before Colonel Sheppard went to work with you. Your abdominal areas do seem to be a bit more swollen than you appeared,” he commented.
She sighed as she thought about it. “I disregarded that as my neglecting to train. I have not been in the gym since my back begun hurting and been nursing an injury,” she admitted. “I can understand more now why that would be.”
“Aye lass, your clothing hides your body and these change quite well which is likely why no one else noticed,” he said glanced up at the monitor. “Oh! Another contraction is about to come! Nurse? Can you please find Colonel Sheppard and ask him in. It’s almost time.”
John was sulking when he was back in the waiting area, holding an ice pack against his swollen face and trying to drink the now cold coffee. Gibbs looked on at him with an amused look on his face.
“Do you have any plans on what you two plan to do now?” Tony asked randomly as his head leaned back against the wall where he sat.
“It’s not like we had time to discuss things yet, Tony,” John answered.
McGee slurped a sip from his coffee and shrugged. “But you must have thought about it some since. I’m curious as to if Gibbs and Vance will let you two to be partners after this,” he commented, glancing at their boss quickly and nervously.
“I don’t care, to be honest. If not, I’ll retire and should we have a healthy baby, become a full time house dad and babysitter to Torren.”
“I thought we had taught you something about quitting, Sheppard.” Gibbs replied.
John shrugged. “You have a thing against partners on a team, it’s only fair if you decide we shouldn’t continue with what we are doing. And it’s only reasonable for me to either find a different job or retire in order to stay with Ziva.”
The older man smiled and shook his head. “I’ll admit that this was a big surprise but you two have also continued to separate your private life from your work without any hints to your relationship so far. Being parents will change things, you know. We can keep going on a probationary basis for now and see how things go. You both however, willhave wills and all that other legal stuff done when things start to settle down. If either of you are injured or killed – that baby will need to be cared for.”
“I know, Gibbs. A baby is not a pet. Did someone call Teyla already?”
“I think Abby did,” McGee answered. “Oh someone’s coming this way…” he pointed out as he noticed a woman in pink scrubs shuffling her way down the hall towards them.
“Colonel Sheppard?” the young woman asked, looking around.
“Is she okay?” John asked as he nearly knocked over his coffee when he got up.
The girl smiled and nodded. “Yes, she is comfortable. Doctor Beckett asked for me to come get you. She is almost ready to begin to push. If you wish to come with me now…?”
“Coming!” John followed the nurse. Carson was finally letting him near her again. When he entered the room Ziva was in, he saw she was hooked up on various machines and she had a look on her face that told him that she was about to kill someone. “I’m here,” he smiled as he walked to Ziva and planted a kiss on her forehead. “How are you doing?”
“I’ve been better,” she smiled at seeing him. “You okay?”
Carson looked up and grinned. “Colonel. So far everything is actually looking pretty good. However, Ziva, when the next contraction begins, I want you to push hard,” he said as a nurse came to her other side to help sit her up into position.
“Good?” John asked his friend. “What do you mean? She never even looked like she could even be-“
“Actually Miss Ziva did gain some and show slightly. It appears as if her body simply concealed the infant quite well,” the doctor grinned as he kept an eye on the monitor still.
“Apparently!” John shot a look at Carson. “Everything alright though, Doc?”
“Well as soon as the little one is with us, I’ll have to look him or her over to be sure, but right now, other than a bit of a concerning heart rate, things do look like they are going good.”
“Good,” John then smiled at Ziva who looked like she could use a nap. “You can do this.”
She shook her head. “You do this,” she replied as she winced when a spasm started up again.
“Alright Ziva, I want you to push through this,” Carson interrupted. “Just a couple good hard pushes may be enough and it will be all over soon enough,” he reassured her.
Ziva sat up with the help of the nurse and bared down, her hand tightening around John’s. She groaned it out as she felt her insides stretch painfully. It felt like an eternity before the first wave was over and she fell back against the bed.
“You are doing good lass,” the doctor smiled. “The head is through and the youngin’ has a load of hair! On the next contraction you should be able to finish up and we’ll have a new life here!”
“You push it out!” she cried. “I just want to sleep…”
“You can sleep soon, honey…” John reassured her. “You’re doing great.”
Growling she shoved him away. “You do this, I just – I can’t,” she whimpered. Her reprieve did not last long as the next contraction came quickly which ignited her to cry out and the nurse helped to support her back while she bared down to push the infant out the rest of the way.
“I have the shoulders,” Carson announced before the rest of the small body simply slid out, leaving Ziva in an exhausted slump. Quickly he clamped the umbilical before cutting it and transferring the baby to the warmer where a small group of hospital staff were waiting to begin to clean off and check on its health.
John wanted to follow Carson and look at the baby but his glare told him to stay with Ziva. He took a wet wash cloth and softly caressed Ziva’s face with it. “I think it’s a girl,” he smiled at her.
While he left his friend to tend to his love, the doctor went over to help with the baby. Suctioning the nose and mouth of the tiny body, he quickly tried to stimulate the infant into breathing and crying. A nurse looked up at him and murmured, “She has an Apgar of five.”
“I see that,” he muttered with concern and determination as he continued to rub at the tiny extremities to push the blood through to them. After a minute or so, the baby let out a tiny cough before wiggling around on the table and pulling its arms and legs away from each person who tried to tug on them to check its physical activity.
After a little more suctioning the baby let out a loud cry that soon filled the room, filtering out into the hall whenever the door opened by nurses coming and going. Smiling with a pleased satisfaction, Carson looked back at John and Ziva. “It’s a girl! A wee bit tiny, but she looks to be quite healthy!” he said as he finished wiping her off before wrapping a soft blanket around her to bring her over to her parents.
John watched the baby girl as Carson placed her in Ziva’s arms. “I can’t believe it,” he breathed a sigh of relief. “She’s beautiful!” He smiled and softly kissed Ziva on the head.
Ziva blinked as she looked at the tiny baby. “I feel like I’m going to break her,” she said softly. “All this time…I did not know.”
“She’s quite the surprise alright,” John smiled as he softly touched one of the tiny hands with his finger. “I can’t believe we’re parents.”
“I know,” she replied as she stared at her.
“Have either of you ever considered a name through all this?” Carson asked as he watched on proudly.
“Nope, was too busy worrying about Ziva.” John answered. The little girl looked like Ziva, with her big eyes and tiny nose and he just couldn’t believe that he and Ziva were responsible for her creation.
She looked up at John and smiled. “Actually I did think about it some, on the way here and while waiting for you,” she said. “After we got back from Colorado, I looked up more about Elsa, and who she was… and I thought…Well I know how much she meant to you but what if we use her middle name? Mariely?”
John was quiet for a moment and then looked at Ziva. “I think – I think that it’s a great idea and that Elsa would have loved that,” he answered carefully. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” she nodded and looked back at the baby. “After all, if it were not for her, in some ways, she would not be here, right?”
“Alright,” John nodded and kissed her. “Mariely it is.” John then heard the muffled sobs of his friend Carson and looked at him. “Really?”
“Ah lad, it’s wonderful to see how you’ve come full circle and how your lass wants to honor Elsa… forgive a grown man for crying.”
Ziva smiled up at him before looking at John again and moved to let him take her. “Here,” she said. “Hold her. Show her to the team,” she added as she shifted in the bed uncomfortably. Carson was already back in his stool at the foot of the bed knowing what was going to come next.
“You best listen to her. We just need to handle the afterbirth here and get Ziva cleaned up for everyone to come in,” he said.
John looked at Mariely in shock. She was small and light and he now realized why Ziva was afraid she’d break her. “Oh… okay.” He made his way out of the room with their baby girl in his arms; he didn’t have to go far, before he knew it, he was looking directly at Gibbs who was smiling like a proud grandfather and Tony and McGee grinning like the silly uncles. “It’s a girl,” John said sheepishly.
“Well let us see!” Tony replied as he looked over McGee’s shoulder to see better. “Holy crap she’s small!”
“Ziva’s ninja body hid her well,” John pointed out.
“Congratulations, Sheppard. She’s beautiful,” Gibbs said. “She’s going to be one hell of a heart-breaker when she grows up.”
To that Tony grinned. “I believe that. Considering her parents, she’s going to have every guy chasing after her,” he laughed and simmered down once he caught the look John had in his eye – and after McGee elbowed him in the gut.
“Did you guys decide on a name?” McGee asked.
“Ziva thought that Mariely was appropriate.” John said proudly. “I think it suits her.”
“I don’t know, we haven’t discussed the important details yet, Ziva was kinda busy and now she’s too tired to have that kind of conversation.”
Gibbs shrugged a shoulder. “It can wait. At least she has a name,” he smiled as he made his way over and reached up to play with the tiny fingers. “Abby and Ducky hired a private ambulance to come transfer Ziva and Mariely. She is riding up with them and said they should be here any minute so you might want to prepare yourself for a tornado.”
John chuckled. “Is there a way to prepare yourself for the torrent that’s Abby? Please, tell me your secret!”
The older man only smiled as he turned his attention back on the baby. “She’s going to be out of work for awhile. I’m assuming you’re going to talk her into moving in by you at least temporarily? I’m sure Teyla will be able to help her where she would need that sort of thing.”
John nodded. “The house is a secure place and big enough for all of us . I’m sure Teyla would be more than happy to help.”
“Of course I would John,” a voice spoke up from behind them. Abby and Teyla were walking down the hall with the ambulance crew behind them. “Is that the baby?” she asked as she, almost as eagerly as Abby looked.
“John! John! John! Gibbs! Gibbs! Gibbs! The first team baby! Can you believe it! Oh my god! Will I get to babysit? Please say yes! I have so much that I could teach it! What is it? It’s a girl, right? Of course it is! They wouldn’t wrap a boy up in pink,” Abby rattled on as she jumped on her already high platform shoes. “And oh my god what happened to your face?”
“Abby,” John chuckled. “Calm down, please.” He was surprised that Mariely was still quiet, but apparently she was too tired of the stress Ziva had to endure during the day. “Her name is Mariely and I’m sure that you’ll get the chance to babysit her one day.”
Teyla had been eying the child in her friend’s arms and smiled. “She could also simply be a quiet baby,” she pointed out. “But I believe your Doctor Mallard would prefer us to have everyone moved closer to home simply for the comfort and security of your military hospital. Where is Ziva? I will go speak with her quickly and fill her in on the arrangements for you.”
“In there,” John pointed towards the room. “However, I was kicked out, I think it’s safer to wait until Carson says it’s okay to go in.” When he saw the look on Teyla’s face he smiled. “Yes, Carson, the Hammond brought him over after I asked if they could level something to the ground for us.”
“If he kicked you out for the reason I believe, then he will certainly let me in,” she smiled as she turned to go find her friends and share their plans.
“Can I please hold her? Please?” Abby seemed to have calmed down somewhat as she stretched out her arms. “I promise I won’t drop her.”
“You’d better not,” John said as he gently put Mariely in Abby’s arms and then took a seat on one of the chairs. What a day, John thought as he kept his eyes on Abby and his daughter.
After several minutes passed, Carson eventually made his way out of the birthing room with a tired smile on his face. “How is everyone fairing?” he asked as he approached the waiting area after speaking to the ambulance crew. Teyla had remained in the room with Ziva to help clean her up for the transfer, and it was something that he was confident that the nurses were more than capable of assisting as well so he took his leave then. “Have you gotten yourself checked out, Colonel?”
“Yes Carson,” John replied.
“How about your eyes?”
John looked at Carson blankly. “What about them?”
“Well… you’ve been hit on the head several times, maybe you should come by the SGC in a couple of days when you all have settled,” the doctor answered quietly.
“I’m not going to fly only to…”
“You don’t need to fly.”
The doctor sighed and shook his head. “We’ll talk about it later and no excuses. They should be almost done getting Ziva ready to be transferred,” he filled him in. Looking around, he found the woman that Teyla had described that came with her and smiled. “Lass, did you happen to bring Torren’s car seat? I forgot to ask Teyla before I left the room. I’m sure that the hospital has one we can borrow if you didn’t…”
“Oh, Ducky is going to love you.” Abby squeaked. “Of course we did, well I had to remind Teyla and then get the thing out of John’s car but yes, auntie Abby brought the car seat with her.”
Carson chuckled. “Well, we are going to need it soon as this little one will be transported with her mother. I do want to keep them in for observation and some tests for a least a night or two to make sure that there is nothing wrong with either of them after all they went through to get here. You too Colonel. I want you to stay the night when we get to Bethesda. No arguing because Landry agreed, it’s either there or Colorado.”
John made a face. “As long as you don’t call Dr. Cale.”
Carson smiled innocently. “Why would I do that? Oh right, your eyes! Good idea John, a very good idea! No seriously, Colonel, you look like you haven’t slept properly for days.”
“He hasn’t,” Gibbs replied. “Ever since we found that buddy of his.”
“Aye… such a sad loss.” Carson sighed. Looking up, he saw Teyla poking her head out of the room. “Ah, it looks as if they are ready. I suppose it would be alright for Ziva to hold the young one until we get to the ambulance. I hope that the staff doctor has all the paperwork finished. If you don’t mind me taking Mariely for a short time to get her prints done and we can be on our way.”
“Here you go,” Abby gently handed Mariely over to Carson before pushing passed Teyla and running into the room to give Ziva a big hug.
Ziva groaned as she accepted her friend’s affection. She was still quite very sore and the pain medication the nurse gave her had yet to start to take effect. They wouldn’t give her anything strong that would stay in her body long because at some point, she would have to try to see if she could produce milk to feed Mariely, if she decided to try breast feeding at all. “Hey Abby,” she smiled tiredly as she watched what little things she had when they came in being bagged by Teyla.
“I’m so glad you’re still alive and you’re the first mommy on the team and oh she’s so beautiful and you did great and you had us all worried because we couldn’t even find you on your cellphone and that’s why – “
Teyla gently tapped Abby’s shoulder and smiled. “Breathe, and take it slowly. Your friend is tired.”
“Oops, sorry Ziva,” Abby said sheepishly.
“It’s okay. I know you were worried, but we were sure that when we did not check in after having to drive out so far, that Gibbs would have started looking,” she replied. “It is still all very shocking.”
“It is! One moment you’re not pregnant and then whammo! Baby!” Abby hugged Ziva again. “I’m so glad you’re okay!”
She laughed lightly and shook her head. “Evidently, according to Dr. Beckett, I’ve actually had the signs of being pregnant the entire time just it wasn’t as obvious as we would believe or consider…” Ziva trailed off as she noticed the door open and the ambulance technicians come in with their stretcher. Sighing, she knew she would have to move over and she just didn’t want to move period.
It actually didn’t take much effort for the crew to move her themselves and despite the pain and discomfort that came from the jostling. She was happier to have had them do that little bit for her as it would have hurt more for her to do it herself.
Several minutes later, she was being wheeled out into the hall where Carson waited to hand Mariely over to her. Smiling, she looked down at the baby in her arms and sighed. She was so transfixed on the smallness of her that she failed to notice everyone else that lingered around.
“Alright you lot, keep moving,” Carson said. “That’s enough excitement for the day, both the mom and wee one need their rest now, but feel free to follow the ambulance in a car… where’s Colonel Sheppard? Please tell me that he didn’t wander off!”
“He nodded off,” Tony grinned as he started to shake John awake.
“I’m awake, what’s wrong?” John quickly sat up and immediately regretted rubbing his face.
“You, your gorgeous lass and your breathtaking daughter are going to get a lift to Bethesda hospital. Move it, Colonel,” Carson answered. “There will be plenty of time to sleep once the excitement has gone.”
John felt like a zombie when he followed everyone to the hospital exit, but couldn’t help but smile when he saw the look on Ziva’s face while she held Mariely. He knew he had to talk to Ziva about the important things, such as what were they going to do now, but it had to wait until the day after; he was currently too tired and overwhelmed by everything.
The ambulance had been cramped with John and Carson insisting on riding in the back with Ziva and the technician, while Teyla sat in the front. Abby wasn’t too thrilled that she couldn’t join them on the way back but calmed down with just a look from Gibbs as they pulled out. Carson made it clear to the rest of the team that they would be more than welcome to visit in the morning, but asked for them to leave the new family to rest for the night.
By the time they finally got settled in, John had been more than pleased that his friends worked on arrangements for them to share a room for their admission. Since Sheppard was only really in for observation with Carson hovering over around, it was certainly unusual to have a male patient on the maternity ward. However, after everything they endured, they just didn’t want to be too far from one another.
John loved watching Ziva sleep. She looked beautiful, peaceful and ‘glowy’. There was a smile across her lips and at that moment, he fell in love with her all over again. He couldn’t sleep, despite his exhaustion, and had taken place in a chair next to her bed, putting his feet up against her bed and enjoyed the view.
“You should be in your own bed Colonel,” Carson said softly from the doorway. “If you thought the last several hours were overwhelming, it’s only going to continue to be so for a long while. General Landry is still eager to visit you this weekend, or have you forgotten?”
“She’s so beautiful, Carson. I don’t want to sleep, I just want to sit here for a while.”
“Yes, she is a lovely woman and I am relieved to know that you have found her, but please, return to your bed and get the rest you really do need. I don’t want to have to sedate you to make sure that you get rest, but I will if I have to,” the doctor sighed.
John grumbled as he put his feet on the ground and got up from his chair. He softly planted a kiss on Ziva’s forehead and crawled into his own bed. “Happy?”
“Ecstatic,” Carson replied as dryly as his friend spoke, but smiled nonetheless. “I will call and update the General on everything and try to get arrangements for everything you will need. I hope you don’t mind but I gave Teyla your wallet when you were sleeping so that she and Miss Abby to go buy things for the baby.”
“Thought I had lost it when Cobb had us. I must have forgotten to take it with me then.” John pulled the covers over him. “It’s fine, Carson, thank you.”
“Ah, no. Agent Gibbs actually found it in your car after you got to the hospital,” he replied. “You don’t remember putting it in the center console? Though your badge and weapon from the Navy will have to be replaced – that wasn’t around that anyone could see.”
“The bastard took our weapons and cellphones, although they didn’t work,” John said, and then sighed. “He had this huge grudge against all agencies for some reason and I haven’t been able to figure it out.”
“You and your friends can work on that later, lad. At least you made sure he wasn’t able to put other people through what he has put you through, and your lovely lady and of course Sergeant Stackhouse. That should be satisfactory for you,” Carson smiled. “You were never one for getting to the bottom of things unless you were being forced to, I like this change in you.”
“Does that mean that you’ll hold off on Dr. Cale?”
“No.” Carson smiled again. “Sleep well, Colonel.”