“Ima, Ima, look!” Noah’s excited words filled the back seat of McGee’s mid-size sedan, and filtered up to the front, meeting Ziva’s ears. Brown eyes met smaller emerald green ones as they danced at the sight outside the window. Ziva’s attention followed that of her son’s, and her jaw dropped and then tightened at sight of the shenanigans occurring on the roof of her home.
“Ima, did Santa come early this year?” Noah’s innocent assumption made McGee chuckle and his mother sigh.
Ziva shook her head, as the McGee brought the car to a slow stop in the DiNozzo driveway. Unbuckling her seat belt, she opened her door and climbed out and reached for son’s. After undoing the carseat, she gathered the small boy in her arms, settling him on her hip. In four years, he had gotten so big, but she selfishly couldn’t bring herself to give up the small moments like this one. Give him a couple more years, and he’d be refusing to be held at all.
She offered up a laugh, nuzzling his cheek with her nose. “Noah, you know better. Santa does not come until Christmas Eve. No early visits for good little boys, unless maybe he’s delivering your coal.”
An sharp little intake of breath is paired with a squeal, Noah shaking his head furiously into his mother’s neck. “No coal, Momma. I’ve been an extra good boy.”
Ziva smiled warmly and tightened her hug, “Well you may have been a good boy all year, but in this moment, your father is not.”
“ANTHONY DINOZZO, JR, WHAT IN THE WORLD DO YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE DOING?!”
The shouting accusation caught Tony off guard, causing him to momentarily lose his balance and slip and slide on the shingles. Reaching out, he grabbed the edge of the brick chimney to steady himself, but not before he got himself tangled in the array of multicolored lights.
“Last I checked, Tony, it was fifty degrees and hadn’t snowed. I’d think you’d have a little more grace than this,” McGee mocked just loud enough for his partner to hear, unloading the bags from the trunk and carrying them up the front steps.
Green eyes sent daggers in McGee’s direction, as Tony turned his attention to his sure to be livid wife. “Zee-vah,” he drawled out in good humour. “How was the shopping trip? Get me anything good?”
“I don’t believe you deserve anything,” Ziva hissed setting Noah on his feet by her side. “I thought I had made it clear before we left that you –”
The front door swung open and a burst of energy, all long lanky legs and long unruly dark hair, ran out towards Ziva, interrupting her lecture. “Mom, I told him not to. I tried to tell him that you’d be mad. And he tried to swear me to secrecy,” she confessed, whispering the last part with her head down.
Tony shook his head, from his seat on the roof, muttering under his breath at being sold out by his only daughter. “So much for being daddy’s little girl.”
Ziva hugged Lena, and smiled warmly at her, “Don’t worry, my love, I believe you. Why don’t you take your brother inside and continue to work on your lists for Santa?” Lena nodded, grabbing Noah’s small hand in hers and led him up the front steps.
Turning her attention back to the task at hand, Ziva looked up at her husband, who had gone back to his task of untangling the long string of lights he had been previously attempting to line the house with. “Tony, I thought we had an agreement. You were supposed to wait until McGee got back to help you. I don’t want a repeat of last year. Especially after the fiasco that happened last weekend with the Christmas tree lights.”
“I just wanted to surprise you and Noah,” Tony sighed, his head bent in regret before slowly lifting to face her with a full-on DiNozzo smile, plastered across his face. “But I didn’t do it alone; well, at least not exactly.”
Ziva looked around in question, “What do you mean? The only ones here are you and I, the children, and McGee.”
“Hit the lights, Boss.” Tony ordered nonchalantly, appearing to speak to no-one in particular, but as soon as the words left his mouth, the house became a well-designed spectacle.
Various colors danced like Noah’s eyes along the combination of brick and cement that encapsulated the structure of their home. The strings of icicle lights lined the roof evenly without one single bulb out of place. Candy canes and snow men lined the walk, in reds and whites. Snowflakes hung in each window, causing a glow to light up each room.
“Tony….,” Ziva breathed, taken back at the sophistication and coordination that was bestowed in front of her, such a drastic change from the haphazard light show of the year before.
Smiling as bright as their children on Christmas morning, Tony only winked.
Ziva shook her head in wonder, “Who?”
A deep, gruff chuckle came the fence, separating the driveway from the small backyard. Appearing in his jeans, USMC sweatshirt, and an uncharacteristic Santa hat, Gibbs took a swig of his beer and sent a pointed smile at Ziva.