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Fic: Davide’s Five Smooth Stones

Part 1

*ncis*glee*

Tony met her at the airport and took her straight to the crime scene. Mostly, he filled her in on the case (a sailor was dead and he had two girlfriends and several friends-with-benefits). Tony dropped enough hints that Ziva knew that he would be nosing around in her personal business as soon as he had the chance. It would take a while as they tried to tabulate everyone who had sexual relations with Frederic Yoder.

After the second trip of bringing Yoder’s ‘friends’ to Gibbs to interrogate, Ziva found herself with five minutes at her desk. “Do you have a spare computer?” Ziva asked Tim.

He looked up from the searches he was running about the victim. He motioned to the monitor to the side. “It doesn’t have much RAM. It’ll take a while to do anything on it. I haven’t had time to upgrade it.”

“I’m not in a hurry and it doesn’t concern this case.”

“O… Kay.”

“See if you can find anything on Jessica Colley,” Ziva said. Colley was the only person in Lima that could have a reason for hurting Hannah and Noah. She wanted the investigation started sooner than later.

Tim looked concerned. He rolled his chair to the spare computer and started typing immediately. “What am I looking for?”

“Anything that can connect her to Ari or any terrorist activity.”

“She lives in Lima?” Tim knew the goal of her weekend trip to Ohio. He had pushed her to go and she owed him the truth at the very least.

Ziva nodded. Even after driving through town and hearing the natives pronounce it, Ziva had to work not to instantly correct the pronunciation to match the South American city. “She had an ongoing affair with Ari.”

Tim’s face tightened. “Did Noah know about it?”

Ziva blanked but could imagine ten different scenarios where Ari deliberately exposed Noah to the affair to diminish the boy’s self-worth and to boost his own ego. It was highly probable. Ari was that kind of sadist. “I don’t know. I didn’t ask.” Eventually, she would have to ask. Hopefully, not for a while. She wanted to build Noah up, not remind him of times that his father tore him down.

Tim didn’t ask anymore. “I’m running her name through every database I have access to and trying to match her travel and expenses to those on watch lists.”

“Thank you.” Ziva hurried to get back to work. She had passed on her suspicions and now could fully focus on the current case in DC. Jessica Colley had no reason to hurt Hannah or Noah. Ziva didn’t need to worry about them. She called those that knew Janet Rich and followed every lead given to her, but they had no motive. She was one of the few women in Yoder’s sphere that hadn’t slept with him. Something was screwy with the case and she wasn’t the only one to think so. They had gathered enormous piles of evidence but nothing solid had connected Rich to Yoder. All they had was rumors and looks. Two people swore that Rich despised Yoder but didn’t know why.

It was going to be a long night waiting for news. Gibbs was questioning Janet Rich’s boyfriend/alibi and the rest of them were waiting for the evidence delivered to Abby’s capable hands to turn into something useful.

“You are waiting for your machines to finish, yes?” she asked Abby.

Abby nodded.

“Stay.”

Abby shook her head. “I like watching over my friends and making sure that nothing goes wrong with Major MassSpec.”

“I will make it worth your while. I have a video.”

“Why don’t we watch it in my lab?” she offered.

Eavesdroppers were less likely, so Ziva agreed. She looked at Tim and Tony and jerked her head. They were invited as well.

As soon as the team cleared the elevator, Ziva tossed her phone to Tim. “Play the most recent video on the screen,” she ordered him.

Tim quickly loaded the memory card and found specific video. He flashed her a grin. “Taken this weekend.” He knew what that meant.

“Yes.”

Tim queued it up.

“Turn up the music. Loud.”

At the first beats of the music, both Abby and Tony looked intrigued. None of them spoke during the performance. Ziva enjoyed the performance as much as the previous times. She had watched it several times on the return flight home.

“The filmography leaves much to be desired,” Tony said as soon as it was over.

“I used my cell phone,” Ziva reminded him.

He ignored her. “But the performance… I hate to say this, especially about the King of Pop, but the remix might be better than the original.”

“I love the cover and the mash-up,” Abby gushed. “I’m turning this into an audio file and this is totally going on my ipod.”

“I want a copy of that,” Ziva was quick to request.

“Me three,” Tim added. “Which one is Noah?” he asked.

“Number twenty. He is the defensive… tackle? I believe.”

“Oh, let’s watch it again for Ziva’s friend!” Abby suggested and then loaded up the video to do just that.

“There he is,” Tim pointed out.

“Does that say… Puckerman?” Tony asked. His eyes fell on Ziva. “As in Jonah Puckerman?”

Ziva lifted her chin. She was not ashamed of her nephew. “We all know Jonah Puckerman never existed. That is Noah Puckerman, his son.”

“Does Gibbs know?”

“Does Gibbs know what?” their boss surprised them all. “And Abby turn down that racket.”

Ziva was always one for grabbing the ram by the horns. She faced Gibbs and told him, “That racket is my nephew, Noah Puckerman, singing with his Glee Club.”

Gibbs glared at Tim, who obviously had known and had kept the information to himself. “Conference room,” he barked.

Obediently, Ziva followed Gibbs into the elevator. She was waiting for the moment when he flipped the switch. “Ari’s son?”

“Knows and hates his father, for what he truly was.”

Gibbs cocked his head to the side. “Just like Ari.”

Ziva felt the hit like a punch to the gut. It had been a while since she had been on the other side of a Gibbs interrogation. “Ari’s dead and Noah doesn’t care enough, doesn’t see the point to lying and killing either for his father or against him.”

Gibbs nodded once.

“Plus, he’s failing world history.” He didn’t know enough about the ongoing situation to be of any use to either side of the ongoing hostilities.

Gibbs looked mildly concerned.

“I got him a tutor, which I personally interviewed.”

Gibbs grinned. He knew that ‘interviewed’ was a polite way of saying ‘interrogated.’ “I want to meet the boy.” That was another polite way of saying ‘interrogate.’

“I’m working on a way to get them to visit during the summer holidays.”

“Them?”

Ziva smiled up at her boss, who was more of a father figure. “Hannah is nine and a real sweetheart. Obviously, she can’t come without Noah, but I’m trying to get them to earn the trip.” Knowing that she and the others were Gibbs’ children, she added. “Congrats, you have both a grandson and a granddaughter. Legally, I’m their guardian if anything happens to their mother. I’ll be changing my will so that there are my beneficiaries. Also, I gave them Abby’s number in case of an emergency and they can’t get through to me. I’m going to tell Abby to pull me from any op, if they call.”

“Will they call?” Gibbs was asking if they would take advantage of the privilege.

“Noah will only call when Child Services is knocking on the door. Or when Hannah is in the hospital and his mother is more of a hindrance than a help. Hannah will only call when Noah is unavailable.” Such as unconscious in the hospital. Chances were good that they would only call as a last resort, not when she would be most effective.

“Should Child Services be called?” Gibbs asked gently.

“She doesn’t hit them and she doesn’t expose them to sex.” Neither exhibited any of the behavior indicators, but Sarah Puckerman was a mean drunk.

Gibbs nodded and flipped the elevator switch. Just before the doors slid open, he slapped the back of her head. “That’s for keeping me out of the loop.”

“I’ll keep you informed,” she promised. If, for some reason, Sarah Puckerman’s body needed to disappear, Gibbs would help make it happen.

Gibbs stepped out onto the floor of their offices and Ziva hurried behind. “If we take most of the weekends between now and summer, we should be able to not be on call when the children are here.”

Ziva grinned up at him. “Thank you. I’ll warn the others.”

“Do that.” He tossed her the keys to the NCIS car. “Now Janet Rich’s alibi just fell through. Find out what really happened.”

“Yes, boss.”

“Take Tony with you.”

Ziva grabbed her backpack and Tony’s. She was calling her partner before she was back in the elevator.

They had work to do. She would even let Tony drive to the suspect’s house. She would be too busy testing her nephew and telling him that her coworkers thought the remix of Thriller was better than the original.

*ncis*glee*

A few days later an e-mail from Noah’s tutor was waiting in her in-box. Ziva scanned the contents, pleased. She was hitting Noah’s speed-dial number before thinking it through. Noah answered on the third ring. “Aunt Ziva?”

“Your tutor is reporting a marked improvement, already,” Ziva informed him. “He believes that your grades will show it on your next test.”

“Yeah?” He didn’t sound too enthused. “I… I’m trying, but I’m not sure I’m going to make your minimum requirements for the summer trip, Aunt Ziva. I have to get a B on two tests Friday and I’m not ready.”

“Then I won’t keep you on the phone when you should be studying, but I’ll make you a deal, Noah.”

“Another one?” Noah teased.

“If you get a B on both of those tests, I’ll pay for recording equipment for the choir room.”

“Recording equipment?”

“Yes. I’ll do it through the synagogue so that it won’t be attached to you, but I want a CD of songs that you’ve sung solo or as a duet, even some of your group.”

“You want a CD of me… singing?”

“Yes. I will add the songs to the half-time show already on my ipod.”

“You really have the half-time show on your ipod?”

Ziva decided that she liked surprising her nephew. “Yes. I will show you when you earn your summer break and come visit me. Now go study. I will speak with you again on the Sabbath.”

“Thanks, Aunt Ziva. I’ll try to do my best.”

“There is no try,” Ziva told him loftily. “Only do.” She hung up on the sound of her nephew’s laughter. Obviously, taking Tony’s suggestion and watching Star Wars paid dividends. She was going to have to ask Tony for a longer list of movies that Noah would have seen. She wanted to understand his references and she wanted to surprise him with hers.

But for right now, she called up Hannah, just to ask how she was doing. The conversation was shorter but the girl did shyly mention that she was enjoying her gymnastic classes and that she had made a new friend.

Ziva considered it progress on both fronts.

*ncis*glee*

On the following Tuesday, Ziva got a text message from Noah. It was a photo of an ‘A-’ on an English test. Ziva was so pleased that she started transferring funds for the promised recording studio. On Wednesday, Noah sent a second message, this time it was a ‘C’ on a History exam. “Can we average it?” the message asked. “I’ve gotten 2 ‘Bs’ on my math quizzes.’

Ziva texted ‘hmmm’ in return, curious to see if Noah would try to bargain.

She wasn’t disappointed. Noah texted, ‘Math test this fri. I can get ‘B’ on that.’

‘I want a B+.’ She replied. She didn’t want him to settle for just a ‘B’ when he could do better.

‘Done,’ he agreed.

On the following Monday, Ziva got a test message featuring an ‘A’ on the math test. Ziva replied that the contractors had already been hired. Ziva didn’t get many texts from Noah in the following weeks. He did keep her updated on his test scores. Math quizzes were A’s and B’s. He was getting all A’s on his English assignments, B’s on his Heath homework and C’s from Biology. There was a huge Biology project upcoming that Noah and his tutor were working on that was sure to raise his grade. History continued to be Noah’s Achilles’ heel. He couldn’t match up dates with people and places. He would be lucky to get a C in that class. Then his tutor tried a different tack. The two of them worked to put the facts to music.

Noah ended up with a B+ on his next test… and a detention because he couldn’t hum ‘Doe a Deer’ quietly enough. Through a series of texts, Ziva learned that the football coach, Ms. Beiste had talked with the history teacher and arranged for all future tests to be taken in the coach’s presence where he could hum all the songs he needed to recall the lessons.

Ziva would have to meet and thank the woman in person. She did have Tim hunt down her phone number and left a voice message thanking her for stepping in for Noah.

The following weeks were a mix of cases and texts from Noah and Hannah. At first, Ziva found the disparity between the foci distracting, but in the end she enjoyed the tiny glimpses of normality amidst the death and gore of her job. The contractors for the sound room began construction at McKinley High and Noah was sending her a daily photo update. Finally, the room was completed and a package arrived in the mail. Ziva picked it up on her way to work and started opening it as soon as she parked her car. She juggled everything and tried to read Noah’s note as she maneuvered through the Navy Yard security.

As soon as she reached her desk she dumped the package upside-down. Noah had sent the CD and a piece of concrete, the jagged edges rounded off. He scribbled a note, listing the songs, authors and singers of each one. Ziva scanned through the compilation list:

Sweet Caroline first sung by Neil Diamond
Lady is a Tramp first sung by Sammy Davis Jr
Beth first sung by KISS, performed by 2011 Glee Club Guys
Need You Now first sung by Lady Antebellum, performed with Rachel Berry
One Love (People Get Ready) first sung by Bob Marley, performed with Artie Abrams
I'm the Only One first sung by Melissa Ethridge
School's Out first sung by Alice Cooper
Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel
Mean first sung by Taylor Swift, performed with Coach Shannon Bieste
Glory Days first sung by Bruce Springsteen, performed with Finn Hudson
Fat-Bottomed Girls first sung by Queen
I’ll Make a Man out of You from Mulan, sung with Hannah Puckerman
Big Ass Heart, original song

At the bottom of the note, Noah wrote: ‘The contractors tore out this concrete to put the recording studio in. Thought you might like a piece.’ She knew exactly what she would do with that piece of concrete. She was about to dispose of the packaging when she heard a crinkle. Tucked deep inside the package was a crumpled piece of paper. Ziva carefully drew it out and flattened it on her desk. Tony saw and was instantly hovering. “What’d you get? Hmm?”

Ziva let him. “I’m not sure.”

“It’s a schedule… for a competition?”

“The Glee Club does compete,” Ziva told him.

“Well, if they can throw together a performance like Thriller, they should. The competition’s in Columbus, Ohio. That’s in a couple weeks. Now it makes even more sense.”

It didn’t to Ziva, but then Tony understood teenage boys better than Ziva ever would.

“He wants you to be at his competition, Ziva,” Tony told her firmly. “But he doesn’t want to hear you turn him down, so he’s not asking.”

“That’s stupid,” she muttered. She couldn’t read Noah’s mind. How was she to know what he wanted from her?

“He knows you’re busy. He knows you live half way across the country. He knows you can’t just drop everything and fly out there, but that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t like to know you were in the audience.”

It took Ziva a few moments to parse out what Tony was saying.

“Listen to him, Ziva.”

Both Tony and Ziva jumped at the sound of Gibbs’ voice. “He thinks more like a teenage boy than you.”

“Thanks, boss,” Tony said wryly.

“So can I go?” Ziva asked.

“It depends on the case.”

Ziva understood. She knew how precarious state safety was.

“Ziva.”

She looked up and met her boss’s iron gaze (that Tony said was the hard candy that hid the gooey center). “You should buy the plane tickets. What are you waiting for?”

Ziva happily logged into her computer and obeyed. If at all possible, Gibbs would let her go. Once the tickets were bought, Ziva had an idea and texted Hannah. ‘R u interested in seein Noah’s glee club perform at regionals?’

Less than five minutes later she had an answer. ‘YES! YESYESYESYES. When will u pick me up? I’m going to tell him rite now!’ Well, that was an enthusiastic affirmative. Well, Ziva wasn’t going to be able to surprise Noah even if she wanted to.

She texted back, ‘Plz ask about tickets. Can he get us some?’

Not two minutes later, Noah texted. ‘tickets available at the door. U don’t have to do this.’

‘yes I do,’ Ziva answered. Someday, she would tell him about her own dance recitals and looking for her father in the audience. She understood what he had experienced.

*ncis*glee*

As soon as Ziva walked into her apartment that night, she put Noah’s CD on and cranked up the music. Then she walked to her bedroom and opened the small glass vial on her dresser. She slid the concrete chip into it and it landed on top of the gravel from Noah’s field and the stone from Hannah’s playground. They were creating their own memorial.

Ziva started cooking dinner, using her train situational awareness to hear all the words to the songs as well as knowing if any strangers passed by her window. At the end of the CD, a song Ziva didn’t recognize caught her attention. She stopped preparing dinner to listen to the lyrics. The song went something like this:

My girl went to the doctor 'cause her heart had palpitations
He said cut the carbs or else she'd end up pushing up carnations
She stepped up on the scale and the doctor said, "Oh Lordy!
If you don't drop a few, girl, you won't make it past age forty."
My girl said, "hey lookie on that fancy x-ray chart."
Said the doctor, "Holy hell, that's one GD big-ass heart!"

I'm telling you my friend, my girl's got a big-ass heart.
When she shops for groceries, that heart gets its own damn cart.
That big-ass heart can pump two tons of love right through her chest,
Then sit down and win a lovin' pie-eating contest.

I love that big-ass heart so much I think it isn't fair,
like how your heart won't pay me back for breaking all my chairs.
So sick with love I think I'm coming down with rickets
When that heart flies coach it has to pay for two plane tickets
Oh that big-ass heart!
Oh, that big-ass heart.

Ziva laughed. She didn’t know why Noah had written the song, but he had a great sense of humor.

*ncis*glee*

On Wednesday night, a video file e-mail arrived from Hannah’s phone, recorded five minutes before. The message was short: ‘lol.’ Ziva glanced around and Gibbs wasn’t anywhere around. She plugged in a set of headphones and hit play. She couldn’t see much in the video, it was just a partially open door to the bathroom. Someone was in the shower. The audio file was gold though. Noah was singing ‘Hakuna Matata’ from the Lion King at the top of his lungs. After about a minute, Hannah’s giggle could be heard on the video. It was contagious. Ziva started giggling and couldn’t stop. Noah heard Hannah and his dripping head poked out of the shower.

“Hannah!” he yelled. “Why are you home? I’ve got twenty minutes before I pick you up.”

“My teacher has a cold and Amy’s mom said that she could drop me off since you weren’t answering your phone. I guess you were too busy having a concert.”

“Hannah!”

“You sound lovely, Pumba!”

“I’m going to kill you.”

The video cut out. Ziva checked her watch. Noah should be out of the shower by now. She called up her nephew and stifled her laughter.

“What?” Noah barked.

“Ah, what’s got your shorts in a bunch?” Ziva asked.

“Nothing. Hannah. Nothing.”

“Is Hannah okay? Did anything happened to her?”

“Nothing that she didn’t earn,” Noah grumbled.

“Is that Aunt Ziva?” she heard Hannah yell on the other side of the phone. “Aunt Ziva, Noah threw me in the shower in my gym clothes. While the shower was on!”

“Noah!” Ziva faked a scandalized gasp. “That’s a waste of water.”

Noah grunted. “Totally earned it.”

“You need to relax,” Ziva comforted. “Obviously you’re wound too tight.”

There was a pause and Ziva could practically hear the gears in Noah’s head crank. He was questioning her timing. “Really?” he drawled.

“Really. Don’t worry, be happy.”

Noah groaned. “How? You know what, I don’t want to know.”

“That’s fine,” Ziva cheerfully told him. “Just don’t be surprised when you find the song on my ipod.”

“Aunt Ziva!”

Ziva hung up on him, because it was fun. Teenage boys needed their world shook up a bit. She forwarded the video file to Abby, with a request to turn it into an audio file. Five minutes later, Abby e-mailed ‘:D, do you want me to filter out Hannah’s laughter with the sound of the shower.’

Ziva hurried to answer, ‘no. leave the laughter and the argument.’

‘will do… you mind if I keep a copy for my play list?’

Ziva paused. Her first instinct was to let Abby have a copy, after all she was doing all the work, but it was a private family moment. Teasing Noah was one thing, but Ziva didn’t want to make a public spectacle of him.

Abby, bless her Goth heart, understood the ramifications without Ziva stumbling for the English words. A second e-mail followed the request. ‘nvrmd. U should keep it in the family.’

‘thx for understandin,’ Ziva messaged back.

By the end of the day, Abby had Noah’s song in a digital audio format and Ziva had added it to her playlist. Ziva’s ipod had formally concentrated on Israeli rock and Japanese pop and Indian Bollywood musicals, but Noah had added to her preferences. Noah and Hannah had added depth and color to her life. When Tim had pushed her to meet Ari’s children, Ziva had never guessed that she would gain more than the children would.

*ncis*glee*

In mid-March, the same week of Noah’s competition, Gibbs’ team caught another terrorist case. They were chasing leads down blind alleys and getting the snot kicked out of them. Tony had a black eye and Ziva had a knife wound on her arm that was held together with butterfly bandages. Once it became obvious that time was going to be short, Ziva drove home to pack when she should have been grabbing a cat nap.

The days ran together and finally they had the suspect in interrogation and enough evidence to hold him whether or not he confessed.

Ziva leaned against her desk and looked at the time. She had to leave in the next five minutes to make her plane. She wasn’t going to make it. Her head bounced as Gibbs’ knocked the top of it. “What are you waiting for?” he demanded. “You can do your reports on the plane. Get out of here.”

Ziva felt like Hannah as she hugged him. “Thank you!”

Tony sat at his desk and heaved a sigh. He pointed at her arm though. “Better get that checked. You’re bleeding through again.”

Ziva nodded, grabbed her bag (for notes) and laptop and anything that she thought she might need for the weekend. Her luggage had been in the car for the past three days. She took the elevator downstairs so that Ducky could reapply the bandages on her arm. She didn’t want to be bleeding through her blouse in front of Hannah and Noah. She could sleep on the plane.

Ziva flew into Columbus and picked up a rental car again and drove to Lima to pick up Hannah. She was waiting on the front step with two bags packed. Ziva didn’t set eyes on Sarah Puckerman and didn’t miss her presence. Ziva put the bags in the back of the rental and walked around the back of the car. She picked up a stone from their driveway. Ziva just knew that this time with her niece was going to be precious.

Then the two of them drove back to Columbus. It took about as much time as it would to drive from Haifa to Jerusalem. Mid-March meant weather conditions were unstable. Columbus had snow but Lima did not. The driving conditions could be fine one moment and very dangerous next. Hannah was quiet for the first hour, doing some homework but she was happy. She switched out CDs regularly. It was probably the first time in her life that she had complete control of the radio. Hannah confessed that Noah would indulge her… sometimes, but he always retained veto powers. Ziva didn’t care enough, or rather, she didn’t want to say no to Hannah. When the pre-teen realized that she was safe, she started talking more. She talked about her friends and asked Ziva about hers. Ziva told her, not about her childhood friends (many dead and others unrecognizable as friends), but about her current friends. Abby was always a great way to start and stories of the scientific Goth kept Hannah wide-eyed and bouncing for more. Ziva couldn’t wait to introduce them to each other the coming summer. Abby was willing and had already reserved a lane at her bowling alley for some ‘family friendly’ fun.

The sun broke through the clouds and highlighted the road ahead. Ziva and Hannah shared a smile at the beautiful picture it made.

“I like art,” Hannah blurted out. “I mean, gymnastics is pretty cool. But art. I like it a lot.”

“Okay. Ducky was telling me of some art classes the Smithsonian is conducting this summer. You are interested?”

“Yes!”

“I’ll arrange it,” Ziva promised.

Hannah leaned over as far as she could still seat-belted in. She hugged Ziva hard. “Everyone said that good aunts are a ton of fun, but I think you’re the best aunt ever.”

Ziva used one arm to hug Hannah in return. “I know you are the best niece ever.”

“Thank you for taking me to Noah’s competition,” Hannah changed the subject as she was wont to do. “I really wanted to come but no one could take me.”

“It is most definitely my pleasure,” Ziva told her honestly.

“What if they win?”

“If? Noah and his group are going to win,” Ziva said. “They are excellent.”

“The next level, Nationals, is in New York City. Is there any way I can go to that too?”

Ziva tried to work out the logistics. The high school teachers would not be allowed to take an elementary student on the bus with them. Ziva didn’t want Hannah to fly by herself and if Ziva flew to Columbus, picked up Hannah and then the two of them flew to New York, chances were good that they’d miss the performance. “I don’t know if there is a way,” she told Hannah.

Hannah sighed. “Then I’m doubly glad that I get to go to this one.”

Ziva didn’t know how to answer than one.

“Are you going to be at Nationals?”

Ziva blinked. “Do you mind?”

“Nope. Noah always goes to all of my stuff but I can’t go to his because he always has to stay out past my bedtime and someone should go to Noah’s stuff too.”

Ziva was impressed… with more than the breath control of the run-on sentence. “I’m glad you’re so mature and believe that.”

“So you will be at Nationals?”

“Yes. I already have the day off and Abby might come with me.”

“Okay. Now that’s just not fair that Noah will get to meet Abby first.”

Ziva laughed. “How can I make it up to you?”

“I’ll think about it really hard.” Hannah paused for a moment and then changed the subject. “So the songs that the Glee Club are singing, did you know that they wrote them?”

“No, I did not. And Noah helped?”

“Yep, at least with the group song. It’s called ‘Loser Like Me.’ It’s a fun song. I’ve heard Noah practicing around the house. I know that Rachel Berry wrote the ballad and Noah said that she did a decent job.”

That was rather high praise from her pessimistic nephew. “Did he?”

“Yep.” Hannah stared out the window at the approaching city. “Do you know where you’re going?”

“I brought a map with me. Can you read maps?” Ziva had meant to study it on the plane but felt that she would be better served to sleep and drive unimpaired.

Hannah nodded. “Yep. Noah depends on me to get him to new places.”

“Good. The map is in my bag.”

The girl unbuckled her seat belt and twisted around until she could grab Ziva bag and hull it onto her lap. She dug through the bag and triumphantly pulled out the printed maps. “Found it.”

“Good. Seatbelt,” Ziva reminded Hannah. Traffic was becoming congested and Ziva had been ordered by all of her coworkers to drive carefully with her niece in the car. Gibbs had point blank warned her that her guardianship of the two children would be questioned if she ever had an accident with either one of them in the car.

They got to the auditorium with plenty of time to spare. Ziva bought the tickets and ushered Hannah into the bathroom to clean-up. Her arm was sore, but no longer bleeding. Ziva swallowed the pills prescribed from Ducky dry when Hannah’s back was turned. Then Ziva turned her attention to her make-up. She looked as tired as she felt. That wouldn’t do. She didn’t want Noah to misconstrue exhaustion as not wanting to be in attendance. Hannah watched avidly.

“Would you like some?” Ziva offered.

Hannah nodded. “But not too much. Noah says that he knows what boys are thinking of and when and he doesn’t want them thinking that about me.”

Ziva parsed out the sentence and decided that she approved. “A little then.” She liked the trust offered as Hannah tilted up her face and closed her eyes. It was done too soon and Hannah was grinning at her own reflection in the mirror.

“It’s awesome.”

“Let’s go find our seats.”

Ziva had called ahead and paid for tickets near the front. They were to the left of the stage but fifth row on the isle. She could have bought tickets closer to the front but she would have been hemmed in by other bodies and the agent in her couldn’t tolerate that. Hannah declared the seats acceptable and the two milled about, not wanting to sit after being in the car for so long. Hannah never strayed out of Ziva’s sight and kept close as the auditorium filled. Ziva was pleased that so many would see Noah’s triumph. The lights dimmed and Ziva and Hannah sat next to each other. The other schools delivered impressive performances but Ziva was sure that the creativity that produced Thriller would outshine them all.

Rachel Berry did not disappoint. Her lyrics were heartfelt and her voice soared above the competition. Despite it all, Ziva was eager for the song to end. She was here for Noah. She wanted to see her nephew perform. She stood and applauded Berry’s performance and thus was standing and ready to cheer when Noah ran onto the stage. Noah spotted them early in the performance and his smile was brilliant. Ziva understood that emotion. She had been on the stage many times hoping for a familiar face in the audience. Noah continued dancing and singing without missing a beat.

At the end of the ‘Loser Like Me’ song, the confetti rained down on them. Ziva knew that it was a symbol for something much more degrading and she was impressed that the children had turned it into a celebration. She snagged a shiny red piece out of the air and slipped it into her pocket. It wasn’t a stone, but this might represent her relationship with her nephew more. She would add it to the tiny vial on her dresser. Ziva caught Hannah pocketing a red and a yellow confetti. She was saving them for her secret place for memories. The two exchanged a grin at being so similar.

The awards were a bit boring and Ziva was itching to find Noah. Of course, Noah’s team won. Never had there been doubt in Ziva’s mind. As much as the Israeli wanted to track Noah down, she remembered the chaos of the backstage after a performance. She waited; sure that Noah would come to see Hannah, if nothing else. Ziva understood that she had to earn Noah’s trust.

“Hannah! Aunt Ziva!”

Ziva turned to the voice just in time. Noah was maneuvering fast around the people in the isle. He was as graceful here as on the football field or the stage. He was smiling, the biggest, most honest smile Ziva had ever seen from him. His arms were open and he wasn’t slowing down. It took a moment to read his intent and she raised her injured arm out of the way. She would not flinch. Period.

Noah practically tackled her in a hug. He squeezed tight and it felt like home and family. “You came,” he whispered in her ear.

“I will be here for you,” Ziva promised.

Noah tightened his hug even more and Ziva knew that he believed her and maybe, just maybe, this felt like family to him too.

*

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
jebbypal
Jan. 1st, 2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
Awesome and so sweet. Great to see ziva experiencing Midwest normality with her heightened caution and instincts intact -- great character detail.
faithburke
Jan. 9th, 2013 12:14 am (UTC)
THat was exactly what I wanted to convey. You're the best reader!
katsheswims
Jan. 1st, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
This was great!
faithburke
Jan. 9th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
THanks!
ice_whisper
Jan. 2nd, 2013 12:47 am (UTC)
This was so cute! I loved!
faithburke
Jan. 9th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
Ahh, thanks for the review
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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vi, no words
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