Timmy sometimes really hated having Ziva around. Well...no, that wasn't quite true. He enjoyed it when she'd play with him and treat him like a kid, not like the older sibling both Papa and Tony expected him to be after Kate...well. After Kate. She didn't mind it when he didn't talk, or when he stimmed, or when he wanted to pull a prank (provided he didn't hurt anyone's feelings or put anyone in danger). He was grateful for the fact that she taught him the word stimming in the first place when she noticed him rocking slightly at one of the crime scenes. He still thought it was just a bad habit, but it was a bad habit with a name, now, instead of just "that stupid tick you have." But he hated the fact that he couldn't tell how she felt about his issues with bed wetting.
They both knew she was aware of it. Tony didn't much care about whether Ziva knew about his diapers or not after Ziva told him it was fine if he couldn't get to the bathroom on time, but with Timmy, it was different. He was asleep when it happened, he was older, he was supposed to be able to hold it. His dad had told him as much at the tender young age of six, before pulling Timmy over his knee as punishment for having these sorts of issues.
Eventually, his mother secretly helped him get Goodnites. He would throw them out every morning before his father came in to inspect how Timmy did making his bed. As far as his dad was concerned, he was completely toilet trained. But despite what Timmy hoped, he never outgrew the habit. All it took was one nightmare and he'd wake up feeling cold and miserable.
Whenever Ziva came over, Timmy would do his absolute best to hold everything until he could get to the bathroom. He tried most days anyway, but he made a point to monitor himself when Ziva was around. He'd go to the bathroom right before bed, he'd stop drinking water after eight thirty. He had a feeling Papa knew what he was doing, but since Papa never said anything, Timmy just kept doing it.
On the nights when Ziva stayed over, because it was late or she just didn't feel like driving home, Timmy extra-hated it. Because then, in the morning, Ziva could walk in and just know what he had done. And logically he knew she wouldn't hurt him over it (at least, not intentionally), but he was always worried about seeing disgust in her eyes if she walked downstairs and found Timmy sitting in a wet Pull-Up during breakfast.
So when Ziva stayed over that night, as she sometimes did, Timmy tossed and turned in bed, not really capable of falling asleep when he was so anxious. Eventually, he passed out from exhaustion and woke up just before dawn in a cold sweat and a wet Pull-Up. He wanted to scream. Why did that night of all nights did he have to have a nightmare?
It was okay, he could do something about this. He could...he could...he could change in the bathroom before Ziva got up, yeah! That could work! He got up, crept out of the bedroom, and went to the bathroom door...to find it shut. Timmy could still hear Papa's snoring, so he knew it had to be Ziva in the bathroom. He quickly backpedaled to the nursery, running a hand down his face. Not good, not good, not good. He knew she checked their room to see if either he or Tony were awake before Papa was, and he couldn't fake sleep all that well. In his desperation, he pulled down his pants just low enough that he could rip off the sides of his Pull-Up and stuck it under his bed, resolving to get it after breakfast and throw it out then. He pulled up his pants just as Ziva walked into the doorway. "Good morning," she said. "Sleep well?"
"Not really," Timmy said. "But I slept enough."
Ziva nodded and left the doorway, and Timmy followed her downstairs, knowing she expected him to. He sat down on the couch, and let his eyes close for what felt like only a minute before he was roughly shaken awake. He blinked hard and fast, to find Papa looking down at him, unamused. "You and me need to talk," he said.
Timmy felt his stomach sink. He knew that Papa knew. He didn't know how, but he did. He let himself be dragged off the couch and upstairs to the nursery. Tony, thankfully, had vacated it sometime while Timmy was asleep. Papa pointed to Timmy's bed. "Care to explain what's underneath there?"
Wincing, Timmy shifted from foot to foot. He shook his head, eyes clouding with tears.
"That wasn't a request," Papa said. "I want an explanation."
"Ziva was in the bathroom when I woke up," Timmy said. "Couldn't change."
Papa pinched the bridge of his nose. "So why would you take off your Pull-Up and hide it under your bed of all places? You couldn't wait until she was out to throw it in the diaper pail in the bathroom? That's kinda where you're supposed to put it, Timmy!"
"But..." Timmy said.
"No. No but's, not about this, kid. That's where the Pull-Ups go, dirty or not, after you've worn them. And this one was definitely not clean." Papa continued his lecture, but Timmy couldn't hear it, the overwhelming fear he felt at seeing Ziva in the doorway taking over every conscious thought he had. "Hey!" Papa snapped, and Timmy glanced back at Papa. "Are you even listening, Timmy?! You need to know that this behavior is not okay!"
Timmy couldn't respond, and Papa was getting agitated. Ziva strode into the room and pulled Papa away, and forced Timmy's chin down so he was looking directly at her. "Listen to me, Timmy. I don't care if you wet the bed or not. If you're embarrassed about it, fine. I won't bring it up, I won't tell you that you need to change, because that's not my responsibility, and you know well enough when you need that. But trying to hide the fact from me using such desperate measures is unsanitary, and unnecessary. Understand?"
"I..." Timmy bit his lip and freed his head, turning away. "I don't want to talk to you. Either of you."
Papa scoffed and Ziva let out a puff of air. "Well, you're stuck with us, kid, like it or not," Papa said.
Timmy scowled and grabbed the Pull-Up from under the bed, walking past the two of them and into the bathroom, throwing the Pull-Up away. He washed his hands and walked back out into the hallway, slamming straight into Papa. He crossed his arms and huffed. "What d'you want?" he snapped.
"First for you to lose the attitude," Papa said. "And then for you to tell me what's wrong."
"No," Timmy said flatly.
"To which?" Papa asked.
Timmy didn't respond, just scowled and stood there. He knew Papa wouldn't back down, but he certainly wasn't feeling like backing down either. Not today. Papa had humiliated him in front of someone Timmy cared about, and he wasn't going to stand for that anymore.
Papa growled, "You do realize I can carry you downstairs if necessary, kid?"
Timmy just stood his ground, not caring if he was crying, because so what if he did? He wasn't going to be embarrassed about it or allow it to let him back down. That's not how these things worked! Not around Papa. He took a deep breath, and considered screaming, before ultimately deciding against it. He didn't want to risk a spanking, if Papa gave him one he sincerely doubted he'd be able to sit down at work later that day. "I threw it away. Problem solved," he said, voice wavering.
"No, problem not solved," Papa said. "What would possess you to do that in the first place?!"
Timmy forced himself to stay calm and not flinch, even as Papa got loud. Papa didn't hit, Papa never hit, he didn't have to worry about that. And Papa rarely got loud. Timmy wanted to scowl, and he was pretty sure he couldn't quite get rid of the expression even if he tried to stay neutral.
Papa took a breath. "Kiddo, I just want to understand, all right?" he said, in a softer voice than before. "I need to know what the problem is in order to fix it."
Timmy shook his head. "Papa can't fix it," he said.
"And why not? I thought you and Tony were convinced I could fix anything?" Papa said.
"Can't fix this," Timmy said. "'Cause it's my own stupid messed up brain."
"Hey," Papa said sternly. "Your brain is not stupid or messed up, okay? Whatever you're feeling, whatever you're thinking, you're doing it for a reason. A logical reason to your brain, even if it isn't logical to anyone else."
Timmy hummed in thought, wavering on whether or not he should tell Papa what was going on. He doubted Papa would understand, but, then again, Papa rarely understood. At least, not the reasons behind Timmy's actions. He just took them at face value and asked why Timmy did something if necessary. And despite Timmy's reasons seeming unreasonable at times, Papa tried to understand when he needed to. Timmy just had to figure out whether this was a time when Papa would think he needed to understand. "I don' like it when Ziva sees," he mumbled.
"When Ziva sees what?" Papa asked.
Timmy shifted on his feet and stared at the floor. "When she sees my...problem."
Papa sighed through his nose and Timmy looked up to find Papa glaring at the wall. "I knew you saw it as a problem, kid, but I didn't realize it was this big of an issue. If you're resorting to hiding the evidence under your bed and hoping that she doesn't catch on, that's a big problem."
Timmy shuffled his feet again, red in the face. "Can I have breakfast now?"
"Not just yet," Papa said, stopping Timmy before he could take a step. "I want to propose something to you. And you're allowed to say no, and we never have to talk about it again."
"But...?" Timmy asked.
"But you might not like my idea," Papa said. "I want you to go without pants the next time Ziva's here. That way, you can see her reaction to you wearing Pull-Ups. It's not something either of you can just ignore. You can see that she really doesn't care. And remember, you're allowed to say no, all right? I understand if you don't want to do it. But I think it might be able to help."
Timmy considered it. He definitely wasn't thrilled about the idea, but if it meant that he had one less thing to worry about around Ziva, it might be a good thing. "Okay," he said softly.
"Yeah?" Papa asked.
"Yeah. Though it would be nice if Tony didn't wear pants either, just so I don't feel weird," Timmy said.
Papa laughed. "We'll talk about that."
Timmy was nervous. He was sitting in the living room, on the couch, wearing just a shirt and a Pull-Up. He and Papa and Tony had gotten back earlier than Ziva for the sole reason that Timmy could steel his nerves before walking around Ziva without pants. But the extra time wasn't doing much except making Timmy extra anxious.
After what seemed like an eon of waiting, the door opened and Ziva walked in. Tony's face lit up like a Christmas tree from where he was sitting on the floor. "Ziva! I've got the blocks and cars and I'm making a city!"
Ziva smiled at him and Timmy was taken aback by how warm her smiled seemed. "That sounds like fun, angel," she said. "Is it all right if I watch you from the couch?"
Tony nodded and Ziva walked over, sitting next to Timmy. "And how are you, love?" she asked him.
Timmy's gut twisted and he looked at Ziva warily. "O-okay, I guess," he whimpered.
"You don't sound okay," Ziva said.
Timmy looked down at his lap, before quickly looking away, as that was just a reminder that anyone and everyone could see his Pull-Up. "I'm nervous," he admitted.
Ziva sighed. "Would you feel better if I read you a story?" she offered.
Timmy blushed and shook his head. Ziva reading stories was nice, but he couldn't relax tonight. He was so nervous he thought he just might wet himself.
Ziva put a hand on Timmy's shoulder and Timmy jumped, flinching away. "It's all right, love," Ziva said. "It's just me."
But that was the problem, Timmy thought bitterly. The problem was that this was Ziva. She could see what he was wearing, and judge him. Even if she didn't do it outright.
"Timmy, can I tell you a secret?" Ziva asked.
Frowning, Timmy nodded.
"You can't tell Tony, but I used to wet the bed as a child too," Ziva whispered in his ear.
Timmy looked at her in shock. "Really?" he whispered back.
Ziva nodded her head. "Mm-hm. And I'll tell you something else: it lasted years. I didn't grow out of it until I was seven. I remember how it felt to woke up disappointed that something went wrong and I couldn't hold it that night."
Timmy's eyes widened. He knew exactly how that felt, he felt it when he was big, as well as little!
Ziva squeezed his shoulder. "So when I say I don't care if you need this, I mean it. Because I know what it feels like to be judged for something you can't control, and I never want to do that to anyone."
Timmy offered her a shaky smile, and she smiled back. "Feel better, love?" she asked.
"Yeah," Timmy said.
"Do you want to play with your brother? I'm sure he'd appreciate your help in building the city," Ziva said.
Timmy got off the couch and went over to Tony, who looked like he was in the process of building skyscrapers. "Can I help?" Timmy asked.
"Sure!" Tony said, passing him some blocks. "The city's a big one, with lots of superheroes, so I'm making lots of tall buildings for them to jump over!"
Timmy grinned at the story line and immediately started talking to Tony about what should go where, and when. He could hear Ziva helping Papa in the kitchen faintly, and he started listening when he heard his name. "...Timmy, was any of that true?"
"Mm, no. Not most of it. I did have an occasional problem like most children do, but it wasn't chronic."
"Does he know that?" Papa asked.
"I do not think it matters. Whether he knows that or not, the message still comes through," Ziva responded.
Papa didn't say anything for a moment, before he confirmed, "And you really don't mind?"
"It was a little unusual at first, but I understand why it's needed, and I have faced too much judgement in my life to judge others on something so trivial," Ziva said.
Timmy smiled and continued building. Even if Ziva could be scary sometimes, she didn't judge him for this. That was more than he could ever ask of anyone outside Papa or Tony. Maybe he wouldn't have to hide whether or not he wet in the middle of the night anymore. Obviously he wouldn't show it off, but if Ziva didn't mind then he didn't have to hide it from her, at least.
That was a huge relief.
After some time of building, Papa stuck his head into the living room and said, "Dinner's ready."
Timmy and Tony scrambled up and into the dining room, sitting down in their usual seats as Papa brought out sandwiches. "What were you two up to in the living room?" Papa asked.
Tony started regaling Papa with the backstory to their city and Timmy interjected every once in a while with his own two cents. He noticed Ziva looking him over and smiling, and he smiled shyly back. He really liked it when he didn't have to worry around her.