Ziva David Is Not My Lover
Tony was shocked when Orli brought Tali into the room.
“She is Ziva’s daughter. And yours,” Orli had said.
He and Ziva had developed a friendship over the years. They’d had their ups and downs. But he was sure he would have remembered if he had slept with her.
“I can’t take of a kid,” he stammered.
The little girl clung to Orli, looked up and smiled at her, then pointed to Tony. “Abba?”
Orli grinned back. “Yes, Tali.” Looking up to Tony, she added, “She knows about the same amount of English as she does Hebrew. You will be able to communicate with her. With you she will learn to be fluent in English. I know Ziva would appreciate it if you would have someone teach her Hebrew as well. Perhaps I could recommend a nanny?”
“A nanny. You will need some assistance with her.”
“I am not taking on a kid,” Tony pushed back. “How do I even know she’s mine?”
“Ziva confided in me. We became friends after Eli’s death. I am like a grandmother to Tali. Sometimes she stays with me on the weekends. Ziva told me you were the only possible father. She is your blood, your daughter. Tali is your responsibility now.”
“It can’t be. Ziva and I never slept together.”
“Oh?” Orli asked. “She said you two shared a bed on an undercover operation.”
“We faked it.”
“And in Paris, when the hotel only had one room with only one bed.”
“And we slept. There was no sex.”
“She said you found her in Israel and tried to get her to go back to America. She was an emotional mess after her father died. She said you two drank wine and one thing led to another. She felt comforted being in your arms. But she knew you were not ready to be a father, so she decided not to tell you. It was a decision she came to regret.”
“I want a paternity test. Now.” Reaching for the little girl’s hand, he said, “We’re going to Abby’s lab.”
Orli nodded. “Of course. If it will ease your mind, run your tests. But I know, this child is yours.”
After Abby collected both an oral swab and a blood sample from Tali, Tony returned the child to Orli’s care. As he took his desk in the bullpen, he glanced at Gibbs who appeared to be ignoring him. He wanted to grab Gibbs and tell him the truth, but he could tell his boss was steaming mad. It was almost as if he could see the smoke coming out of Gibbs’ ears. There was a definite reddening in his face. Tony couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Gibbs so angry.
It would be hours before Abby had the paternity test back. That’s all he needed: proof that the child could not possibly be his. But who did she belong to and why was the director of Mossad so determined to drop the kid into Tony’s lap?
Tony did his best to focus on his work. Bishop and Tim occasionally shot glances at him. Tim seemed curious, Ellie looked sympathetic. Tony was almost relieved when Gibbs was summoned to MTAC.
A couple hours later, Jimmy Palmer came up to his desk, all smiles. “Congratulations, Tony!”
“For being a father. Really, what greater joy is there? Breena and I would love to set up a play date with Victoria. And if you need any help or tips, we would love to help when we can.”
Tony dropped a file heavily onto his desk and pushed his words through his teeth. “That kid is not mine. Period.”
Jimmy looked confused. “But it’s all over the Navy yard.”
“What is all over the Navy yard?”
“That the director of Mossad has brought your daughter to you. Sorry about Ziva’s death by the way. We heard that, too. So tragic. It’s amazing your little girl survived.”
“She is not my little girl. She isn’t. It is not possible. I don’t even believe she was in the blast. She doesn’t have a scratch on her.”
“You’re right. That is amazing. Didn’t the farmhouse completely burn to the ground?”
“Exactly! How did a little two year old child, who can barely walk or talk, get out of there without a scratch? How?”
Jimmy shook his head. “I do not know.”
“Is the nursery a freaking bunker? With its own oxygen supply getting pumped in so her little lungs didn’t fill with smoke?” Tony had raised his questioning voice so Tim and Bishop could hear. He was hoping the whole navy yard was listening. “There’s something hinky about this whole thing.”
Stepping around his desk, Tony went to the elevator. He had to know. The elevator couldn’t move fast enough for him. He found Abby in her lab, with the music blaring.
“Abby!” he called above the din.
Using her remote, she adjusted the volume. “The tests aren’t back yet.”
“I need them ASAP. I know I never slept with Ziva, so there is no way this kid is mine. I just need the proof in my hands...”
“So Gibbs believes you,” Abby finished for him.
“It takes time for my babies to work their magic.”
“Can’t you give me anything?” Tony pressed.
“I tested the blood.”
“I can’t exclude you as her father based on her blood type. I’m sorry Tony. I was hoping it wouldn’t match and we wouldn’t have to wait for the other test.” Walking quickly across her lab, she embraced Tony. “I would make it go faster if I could.”
“Can you explain how this blast was so bad that it killed Ziva, but left this child untouched? Wouldn’t she have burns or smoke inhalation? Something? There’s not a scratch on her. It seems totally implausible to me.”
Abby nodded slowly. “It does.”
“She can barely walk or talk. How could she get away? Unless her nursery was in a bunker. I’ve been there. I was in the farmhouse. It wasn’t like that.”
“Really? I wouldn’t put it past Eli to have some bomb shelter where he could hide.”
“In case something happened, but not where you would keep a child. There were several bedrooms upstairs. I don’t think this kid was anywhere near that farmhouse when it was blown up. How do we even know that kid is Ziva’s?”
Abby backed away and wrung her hands. “One thing at a time, okay? First we see if the DNA matches yours. Then we worry about Ziva’s.”
“We still have Ziva’s DNA on file, right?”
“Yeah. I have yours and hers. We just have to wait on the kid’s. But I’m going to check it against yours first, then Ziva’s.”
“Gibbs is never going to believe me. Not without the DNA results.”
Abby rubbed her hand up and down Tony’s arm. “He loves you. Why would he doubt you?”
“He looks so mad. Despite saying that he trusts me, he can be jealous.”
“I swear, I will get these test results as fast as I can. If you want me to, I will stay here all night until it’s done.”
“You would do that for me?”
Biting her lip, Abby nodded quickly. “Of course. But you owe me dinner. And I mean tonight.”
“Chinese or pizza?”
Tony’s cell phone rang at eleven. “Yeah?”
Gibbs’ voice was gruff on the other side. “Where the hell are you?”
“Running a paternity test. I swear to you, I never had sex with Ziva.”
“I understand that things happen. Long days. Long nights. She must have gotten pregnant about the time you tracked her down in Israel.”
Tony softened his voice. “Jethro, please. I swear to you, I have never slept with her. I would tell you if I had.”
“Maybe you had a little to drink and just don’t remember.”
“I have never forgotten about sex.”
Gibbs sighed. “How would you know? If you didn’t remember, then you don’t even know it happened!”
“I can tell in the morning if I got lucky the night before. Ziva and I had a couple glasses of wine and talked, but neither of us were drunk. There was no nothing going on, just talking.”
“How long until the test is done?”
“A couple more hours, maybe.”
“You should come home so we can talk. And tell Abby to go home, too. We can review the results in the morning.”
Abby hugged Bert to her chest hard enough to make him fart. “I’m staying. You go home.”
Tony held the phone down. “If you’re staying, I’m staying.”
Shaking her head, Abby pushed him toward the door. “Go home to Gibbs. You two need to talk. Go on. I’ll call if I have anything to tell you before morning.”
Tony nodded then lifted the phone back to his ear. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Tony found Gibbs in his basement working on a new project. A bottle of bourbon sat on the workbench near a half-full mason jar.
“What is that?” Tony asked, nodding at the pieces of wood Gibbs was fitting together.
Gibbs shrugged. “Maybe a crib.”
“What? No! That kid isn’t mine. She can’t be.”
Pausing his measuring, Gibbs looked up at Tony. “I want to believe you.”
“I would not lie to you. Not about this.” Stepping closer, Tony looked Gibbs in the eyes. “Ziva and I never had sex. She was not my lover. I am positive of that.”
Moving over to the workbench, Gibbs dumped some screws out of another mason jar and wiped it with a shop towel before adding some bourbon and handing it over to Tony. “Orli didn’t have an issue with a paternity test. Why?”
“Maybe Ziva lied to her. I’m not even convinced this kid is Ziva’s. I know we all cared for her. We worked with her. But we also know she never stopped being Mossad. She was still working with Rivkin. She continued her ties to Mossad even after she became an American citizen.”
“Vance was about to send her home for good. She had to become a citizen to remain with NCIS.”
“What does she gain by saying this kid is mine?” asked Tony.
“It gives Mossad a tie to NCIS?”
“They had to know I’d run a paternity test. They know we’d do it in house where they couldn’t tamper with it. What are they up to?”
Gibbs shook his head and emptied his glass before refilling it.
“I was talking to Abby,” Tony continued. “Neither of us believe that kid could have been in the house when it was hit. She didn’t have a scratch on her. The whole structure was ablaze, burned to the ground. There’s no way this kid could have been there and got herself out. And her diaper bag!”
Tony could almost see the wheels spinning in Gibbs’ mind. Finally he nodded. “Why was the kid clinging to Orli? Why wasn’t she crying for her mother?”
Tony scrunched up his face in distaste. “You don’t think that kid is Orli’s, do you?”
Shaking his head, Gibbs replied, “No. But maybe something fishy is going on here. I want Bishop on this first thing in the morning. Have her pull everything Ziva was connected to.”
“That could take months.”
“Tim and Ellie can do their computer thing. We need to pay special attention to every time she communicated with Mossad. Hell, anyone from Israel. We’re going to see if Tim can hack into Mossad’s archives.”
“I don’t think McHacker knows Hebrew.”
“He can search for Ziva’s name, then pull the files. I want all the interpreters we can find on this.”
Tony woke up on the basement floor, but noticed Gibbs wasn’t there. Flipping his wrist, he checked his watch, then his cell phone. Before he went upstairs, he was hoping Abby could give him good news and was disappointed to see she hadn’t called.
“Good morning, Abby. Any good news?”
“The test isn’t done yet?”
“Well, I’m still going over the results.”
She was holding something back, he could tell. “What aren’t you telling me, Abby?”
“I can’t do this over the phone. I’m sorry, Tony. Come see me when you get in.”
Taking the steps two at a time, Tony raced upstairs and took a quick shower before dressing in a suit. Being clean and dressed nicely made him feel a little better. He found Gibbs waiting for him at the kitchen table.
“You ready to go in?” Tony asked.
“Aren’t you going to eat breakfast?” Gibbs countered.
“I’ll grab a couple donuts at your coffee shop.”
“Okay, bubble butt.”
For the first time since he’d seen Orli, Tony smiled. “You love my bubble butt and you can’t deny that.”
“Tell it to get a move on.”
Although the team knew about their relationship, they had done their best to hide it from Vance. Tony had kept his apartment and stayed there during the week, but spent most weekends, and the occasional weeknight, over at Gibbs’ house. They each kept a couple changes of clothes and personal items at each other’s places, just in case they decided to spend the night together.
Tony drove straight to the office, while Gibbs made a quick stop at his favorite coffee shop.
When Gibbs arrived he dropped a bag with two donuts on Tony’s desk, then looked to Bishop and McGee. “Where is he?”
“Abby’s lab,” said Tim. “He had us get started. On things.”
Gibbs sipped his coffee, then stepped over to Tim’s desk. “What are you working on?”
Tim blinked and lowered his voice to a whisper. “He said you wanted me to see if I could get anything from Mossad’s archives and wanted Bishop to search our records for any communications Ziva had with anyone in Israel.”
Gibbs nodded and took another sip of coffee. “Good. That’s exactly what you should be doing.”
“Boss? What are we looking for?”
“I want to know everything Ziva did. I want to know what she did at Mossad before she came here. You grab anything you can find with her name on it and get it to the translators.”
“On it, Boss.”
“Bishop, once you pull whatever communications Ziva had with Israel when she was here, I want you to track her recent movements. I want to know if she was even in Tel Aviv. Hell, I want to know if she was in the farmhouse when it blew up. Tim, see if you can find any investigation reports.”
“Boss, those reports won’t be filed for months,” Tim explained.
“Orli said they confirmed Ziva was there. I want to know how it was confirmed. Find out. I’ll be down in Abby’s lab.”
Minutes later, Gibbs stepped into Abby’s lab. Both Tony and Abby looked upset. Tony was shaking his head.
“Abby, what do you have?”
Abby looked even paler than usual. “That little girl, she is Ziva’s. And Tony’s. Sorry, Tony.”
Tony looked helplessly at Gibbs. “It just can’t be. It can’t. I swear to you, I never slept with her.”
Gibbs studied his lover, but his gut was telling him Tony was being truthful. “Could she have drugged you?”
“I don’t think so. I remember everything that happened. We talked a lot. She was emotional, devastated by her father’s death. At first she seemed mad that I was even there. The strangest part was when I was boarding the plane to come home. She came to see me off. And she kissed me.”
“She kissed you?” asked Gibbs.
“Yeah. It was weird, but I thought she was just overwhelmed by everything going on. I thought she was trying to let me know she appreciated that I had found her.”
“And you lied to me,” Gibbs recalled. “Why didn’t she want me to know you had found her?”
“I don’t know. She was a mess and said she needed time to sort everything out.”
“And you drank wine together.”
“Just a couple glasses each. We were not drunk.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Where did you sleep?”
“A guest room. Eli kept a room there for Ziva. We did not share a bed.”
“And she couldn’t have come to you when you were sleeping?”
“I told you, I can tell if something happened. And it didn’t. There was no stickiness when I woke up. Not even a hard on.”
Gibbs turned to Abby. “Could someone have gotten to the samples you’re running?”
“No way, Gibbs. I’ve been here all night. If someone had tampered with them when I was asleep, it would have disrupted the tests. We wouldn’t have results yet. I’ve been with the samples since the moment I collected them from Tali.” Biting her lip, she hugged Bert. “I can’t explain it.”
Gibbs took a good look at Tony.
“Boss, I am not lying to you. I’ll take a polygraph, anything. I never had sex with Ziva. The closest I came was on the undercover op. We kissed, but there was no exchange of bodily fluid other than that.”
Gibbs was back to fuming. “Then how does that child have your DNA, and Ziva’s?”
Tony looked down and shook his head. “I don’t know.”
The room was silent for a couple minutes before Tony jerked his head up. “I donated sperm in college. Ziva knew about it. They called and she picked up the phone. I have to call them back.”
Gibbs turned back to Abby as Tony dashed from the room. “Could she do that? How long would sperm be viable?”
“If it’s kept frozen, a sample could be kept indefinitely.”
“And it doesn’t die?”
“It depends on the sample, really. They’ve done studies and most sperm is fine for at least twelve years. But that doesn’t mean it’s no longer viable at that point. Usually they discard it at that time if it’s not used. But that could be because most samples are never used if they’re not used in the first ten to twelve years. If it’s not going to be used, they probably want the storage for newer samples.”
“So the sperm bank called Tony after about twelve years to let him know his samples were never used.”
“He said they called to tell him his samples were being discarded. He told me that Ziva couldn’t believe no one had wanted his samples.”
“Could she have taken the samples and smuggled them out of the country?”
“You couldn’t keep thawing and refreezing it, but if you kept it properly stored, there’s no real expiration date. There’s a lot of sperm in a sample and you only need one.”
“So it is possible that Ziva could have gotten her hands on his sperm and used it?”
“Not by herself. She’d need a fertility doctor and a clinic.”
“I’m asking you if she could have done that? Could she have had a kid with DiNozzo without sleeping with him?”
“Technically, yes. It’s a long shot with a lot of variables, but it is possible.”
Gibbs hugged her close and kissed her temple. “Thanks, Abs. And you keep this to yourself. If anyone asks, you’re still waiting for the test results.”
His next stop was Vance’s office. Shutting the door behind him, he said, “We need to talk. This needs top security.”
Vance nodded then engaged his office security system. “What’s going on, Gibbs?”
“I think we may have hosted a security breach here at NCIS for years.”
“It never added up. Why was she even here?”
Vance bit down on his toothpick. “I knew Eli way back, but I never truly trusted him, or his daughter. I’m listening Gibbs, what are you thinking?”
“I’m not convinced that Ziva is dead. How did this toddler survive that blast unscathed?”
“DiNozzo said they never slept together.”
“Things happen, Gibbs. DiNozzo and David worked a lot of cases together. They had the opportunity. I recall some rumors about you and Jenny Shepard.”
Gibbs glared at the director and huffed his discontent. “Tony says they never had sex. I believe him.”
“I’m not so sure. Miss Sciuto is running a paternity test, isn’t she?”
“She’s working on it. Damn it, Leon. There’s something here. I can feel it in my gut. We know she was working with Rivkin even when she said she wasn’t. I have my team checking out what else she may have been up to.”
“I can’t put Orli off indefinitely.”
“Why is the director of Mossad even involved in this? Doesn’t she have an agency to run?”
“She said she felt if Ziva had been targeted, Tali may be in danger.”
“She’s a paper pusher, Leon. If we had someone in danger, would you assign yourself as a security guard?”
“No, I wouldn’t. I’ll allow this investigation. Keep it on the down-low. I’ll do what I can to stall Orli. And I’m sure Miss Sciuto will as well.”
“Those tests take time,” Gibbs said as he walked toward the door.
“Keep me in the loop, Agent Gibbs.”
Tony was waiting in Gibbs’ living room that evening.
“Why are you sitting in the dark?”
“I just can’t believe someone used my sperm to make a kid.”
“You donated sperm in college. What did you think they were going to do with it?”
Looking up, Tony admitted, “I never really thought about it. Dad wasn’t giving me any money and the sperm donation was a fast, easy way to get a little cash. If it makes any difference, I am regretting it now.”
“You called the sperm bank?”
“Yeah. I had to talk to a few people and maybe threatened them a little bit. They admitted there was a break in and my sperm had been stolen. They didn’t think much about it as all the sperm that was stolen was going to be destroyed anyway.”
“Why would she do that?”
Shaking his head, Gibbs said, “I have no idea. McGee has pulled a lot of files from Mossad’s database. The interpreters are working around the clock to sort it all out.”
Tony took a long drink from the bottle of beer he was holding. “She joked a couple times about us getting together, but I always turned her down.”
“The last time you saw her?”
“Yeah. She said it was my last chance since we’d never see each other again. She said she was done with NCIS. Done with America. Eli left her a lot of money and property. She said she’d never have to work again. She was tired of working. Tired of losing her family.”
“What chance does this kid have?” Gibbs wondered. “Her namesake and mother were both killed in explosions. Her mother killed her uncle. Both her uncle and grandfather were killed by gunfire.”
“Some legacy that little girl has.”
“Abby’s running the tests again,” Gibbs disclosed.
“You think she made a mistake?”
“No. But Vance gave us a green light to stall Orli.”
“Does Vance know?”
Shaking his head, Gibbs divulged, “No. Only you, me and Abby know the results of the first test. Vance gave us the go ahead to investigate Ziva and try to figure out what the hell is going on.”
“I am truly sorry.”
Gibbs went to the kitchen and returned with two bottles of beer. After opening them, he handed one to Tony and drank from the other. “You have nothing to apologize for.”
“It’s such a mess. I don’t even want to be a father.”
Gibbs patted Tony’s thigh. “It can be pretty rewarding.”
“Between the crying, sticky hands and runny noses, I’m sure it’s a blast.”
“They grow up fast.”
“What are you saying?” asked Tony. “You want to raise this kid?”
“I will, if you will. She’d have a better life here than in Israel.”
“How do we know Ziva is even dead?”
“We asked Orli what proof they had. They said Ziva was identified through dental records. If you don’t take Tali, she’ll go to Ziva’s cousins.”
“I still don’t trust them. If they’re up to something, they could have doctored it. Ziva could be hiding out, working deep undercover somewhere. Anyway, I don’t think I’m ready to be a father. And why the hell would I want to raise Ziva’s kid?”
“She was your friend,” Gibbs reminded him.
“But she was never my love, or my lover.”
“I believe you,” said Gibbs as he leaned in for a kiss.
Three weeks later, Vance called Gibbs up to his office.
“I’m not a happy man, Gibbs.”
“Me either, Leon.”
“How long have you been involved with DiNozzo?” Vance asked pointedly.
“Is this really the time?”
“Ziva was a beautiful woman. I was wondering how you could be so sure he wouldn’t sleep with her. It’s because you’re sleeping with him.”
“One thing has nothing to do with the other.”
“What did your team uncover?”
Gibbs dropped a file on the table. “Tim hacked into Mossad’s archives. Ziva had orders. They set her up with NCIS to gain access to classified intel.”
“How far back?”
“Years. She had orders to befriend Jenny. They set up attacks so it could appear that Ziva had saved her life multiple times. She threw in some intel on a few terrorists and she won Jenny over. They convinced Jenny to bring her over here to work with NCIS.”
Vance picked up the file and scanned through it. “They took a chance. Jenny wasn’t the director then.”
“Mossad made her look good. They helped her achieve goals that put her in the fast lane to the director’s chair. She couldn’t wait to pay Ziva back by bringing her into NCIS.”
“She couldn’t have known she’d wind up on your team, or with Tony.”
“They scoped out NCIS and decided to place her on the MCRT. My team. Ari had orders to kill one of my team members. They lured us to that building for the purpose of killing someone on my team. McGee found it in the Mossad archives. Ari took a shot at McGee. He was the probie. Killing Tim would have left the probie position open for Ziva. After Tim was behind the car, Ari checked the roof. He had a shot at Kate. She was their second choice. They thought we’d want to replace Kate with another woman.”
“And there was Ziva.”
“It gets worse. Part of the plan that Ari didn’t know, was that Ziva had orders to kill him from the beginning. Before he ever shot Kate, Ziva was ordered to kill him to earn my trust so I would accept her on my team.”
Vance shook his head. “I knew Eli for years. I can’t believe he snuck this under my nose.”
“McGee and Bishop uncovered several emails between Ziva and Mossad. Who would question Ziva emailing her father in Hebrew? But we had them translated. She never stopped working for them. She was pulling NCIS intel and passing it on. She never stopped until Eli was dead.”
“Why did she want to have DiNozzo’s kid?”
“It was a backup plan. In case I pushed to have her off my team. She was prepared to sleep with Tony and have his kid so she would be able to stay in the US permanently. When they went undercover, she tried to get him to sleep with her for real, but he wouldn’t do it. He knew he wasn’t her type and was suspicious of why she wanted to sleep with him.”
Vance walked across the room and poured himself the drink and offered one to Gibbs. “When she found out about Tony’s donation at the sperm bank, she saw that as an opportunity.”
“She reported it to Mossad and they had a team break in and steal the sample along with others scheduled to be destroyed. They were old samples that wouldn’t be missed by the donors. There were enough that no one would suspect it was to get Tony’s.”
“Why have a kid? Why now? Why use DiNozzo’s sperm?” Vance asked.
“Bishop was able to access some of Ziva’s personal files and emails. She was devastated by Eli’s death. She didn’t want her family line to die out. She’s the last survivor. She contacted the fertility clinic that was storing his sample and had herself impregnated. Apparently she told people she had married an American, but he had sent her back to Israel before either of them knew she was pregnant.”
“Eli must be rolling over in his grave. His only living descendant also has DNA from Tony DiNozzo.”
“Someone at the clinic sold that information to a Mossad agent.”
Vance looked squarely at Gibbs. “Orli found out.”
Gibbs nodded. “She wanted Ziva to use Tali to blackmail Tony.”
“But Ziva knew about you and Tony, didn’t she? She didn’t think Tony would leave you for her. Tell me, I’m right on the money. Right?”
“Yeah, she knew. Tony told her. Long ago.”
“And she didn’t use it against him?” Vance asked.
“What would that serve? She would have been off my team and back on a plane to Israel.”
“Orli set her up.”
“Orli befriended her. She spent a lot of time with Ziva and Tali. When Ziva refused to use her daughter against Tony, wouldn’t even tell him what she had done to have a child, Orli arranged for her to be killed. Tali wasn’t even in the farmhouse. She was staying with Orli that weekend.”
“How is a two-year-old going to help Mossad spy on NCIS?”
“They were going to set it up for her to continue to visit Orli, and Ziva’s cousins, each year. The plan was to groom her as a Mossad spy.”
Vance shook his head. “Devious.”
“Like a snake.”
“Since the kid is DiNozzo’s biological daughter. Is he going to raise her?”
“DiNozzo? Kids are one of his greatest fears. I told him I’d help, but he simply doesn’t want to be a father. Especially not a single dad.”
“I can’t say that I blame him. We can send her back to Israel. I’ll make a call to Orli.”
“You’d really do that to a two-year-old?”
Hanging up his phone without placing a call, Vance studied Gibbs. “What do you have up your sleeve? And if it’s not legal, I don’t want to know about it.”
“He’d like a couple weeks off to take care of business.”
“Okay. You know I’m taking him off your team anyway, right?”
“Come on, Leon. Why mess with a good thing?”
“I can’t have you sleeping with your SFA.”
“Don’t send him away. Please.”
“Yes,” Gibbs confirmed. “I need him.”
“Tell DiNozzo to go do whatever he needs to do. When he gets back, he’ll be reassigned.”
Tony flew back to Tel Aviv with Orli and Tali. Vance had given him the name of a recommended attorney in Israel. Three weeks later, Tony returned to the states with a stack of legal papers.
Since there was no need to hide their relationship from Vance anymore, Tony had offered his apartment to his father, and had moved his own things into Gibbs’ house.
His first morning he was due back to work, Tony put on his favorite suit and checked himself out in the mirror. Gibbs came up behind him, hugging him and nuzzling his neck.
“It’s not so bad.”
“What’s that?” asked Tony.
“Vance knowing about us. I’m glad we don’t have to try to hide it from him anymore.”
“Yeah, but he took me off your team.”
“At least he didn’t transfer you to LA, or China.”
“Yeah. We can still wave to each other from across the bullpen.”
“You’re long overdue to run your own team. You know that, right?”
Turning to face Gibbs, Tony nodded.
Gibbs reached out and straightened Tony’s tie, then brushed it flat. “You deserve to be team lead. And you’re going to be damn good at it.”
An hour later, they were in Vance’s office as Vance dropped three files in front of Tony. “Congratulations, Agent DiNozzo. This is your new team.”
Picking up the files one by one, Tony flipped through them.
“How did things go in Israel?” asked Vance.
Tony looked up and smiled. “It’s classified, Director.”
Vance locked down his office and stood over Tony. “Whatever you tell me will go no further. I just want to know that kid has a good home. She has enough strikes against her, considering her Israeli heritage. Did Ziva’s cousins take her?”
Tony smiled. “No. Gibbs and I talked about it.”
Vance raised his brows, “You two are going to raise her?”
“No. We talked about my sperm being donated and that any children it produced were never intended to know that I was their biological father.”
“So you dumped her off in Israel?”
“With Orli? No way! I contacted that lawyer you suggested and asked him about my parental rights. It was agreed in court that with her being my biological daughter, I was her closest living relative and could get full parental rights.”
“So you brought her back to the States?”
“I did. Along with her inheritance. What Eli left to Ziva will now go to Tali.”
“You’re keeping the kid for the money?”
Tony laughed and shook his head. “Can you see me raising a kid? All the whining and crying, the snotty noses. No, thank you.”
Vance sucked in a deep breath and released it. “DiNozzo, what happened to Tali? Where is she?”
“Remember, Director, you are sworn to secrecy.”
“She is in the capable hands of Jimmy and Breena Palmer. They’re great parents and adore Tali. She’s going to be raised as Victoria’s sister.”
“With a huge trust fund waiting for her,” added Gibbs.
“As soon as I returned to the States,” Tony continued, “I contacted an attorney here. As soon as everything is finalized, he will have private adoption papers drawn up and she will be raised as Tali Palmer and will never know that I am her biological father. When she’s old enough, they will tell her that her mother worked with us, but was killed.”
“And who will they say is her father?” Vance asked.
“We’ve agreed that they will tell her they don’t know.”
“You did good, DiNozzo. You’re giving her a good life with a great family, and a trust fund on top of that.”
Standing up, Gibbs pushed his chair back toward the table. “And he managed to bring Eli’s fortune over here and probably saved Tali from being raised to be a Mossad double agent. All in all, I’ll have to agree. Tony, you did good.”
“And I don’t have to change any dirty diapers.”
“And?” Gibbs prompted.
“I got a promotion and moved in with my one true love.”
“You two aren’t going to run off and get married, are you?”
Tony rose to his feet and joined Gibbs at the door. Pausing, they locked their eyes on each other for a minute.
As Gibbs turned the knob, he turned back to Vance. “You never know. I heard they have a hell of a wedding package in Vegas.”