Chapter 21 – Unstuck – September 2026
"He shoots, he scores," Anthony lobbed the foam basketball at the lamp on the end table by the family room sofa. Daisy jumped up to catch it and bumped the table. LJ and Anthony watched the lamp crash to the floor, breaking the ceramic base into about a dozen pieces.
"Scores big trouble with Ima," LJ groaned. Both boys moved closer to inspect the damage. Daisy watched her master and his little brother from under the piano. The crashing noise had sent her running and under the piano seemed to be a safe choice for the Border collie.
Anthony gingerly moved the largest piece, "Think we can fix it before she gets home?" He looked over the pieces of ceramic; luckily the light bulb was intact so they didn't need to worry about sorting out broken glass from the ceramic shards.
"Can we Superglue it?" LJ asked his older brother. "Grandpa always says to use duct tape, but I don't think that is going to work for this one."
"Superglue what?" Abba's voice startled the two young DiNozzos.
"Um, nothing, Abba," LJ tried to block his father from seeing the broken lamp. At the glare he received, he gulped, "It was an accident, Abba."
Anthony stepped aside so his father could see the damage, "Maybe we can fix it before Ima gets home?" He looked at his Abba with pleading eyes. It was just the three of them at home for now. Ima would pick up Tali from her piano lesson on the way home from work and Grandpa would bring the twins home from gymnastics shortly after.
"Yeah, I think we can probably Superglue it back together, but we're going to have to tell Ima at some point," Tony unplugged the lamp as he spoke. "Anthony, go get the top of the box from the case of paper in my office. We'll carry the pieces to the kitchen in that. LJ, go get some of the newspaper out of the recycling bin. We can cover the kitchen table with it."
The three carried the pieces of the lamp to the kitchen table; LJ had spread the newspaper across the top of the table as his father asked. He then got the vacuum and made sure there were no tiny fragments in the family room carpet that would get into feet, human or animal, while Anthony and Tony made a plan to reassemble the lamp base.
LJ finished vacuuming the carpet and put the vacuum back in the laundry room cabinet. He entered the kitchen as Tony and Anthony were completing the plan to reassemble the lamp. They had the pieces laid out in the order in which they would glue them to the base. They were just about to explain the plan to LJ when the front door opened.
"La'azazel," Tony swore under his breath; he hadn't noticed the time and would have sworn it was too early for Ziva to be home.
Anthony and LJ giggled at their Abba cursing; both boys had heard curse words in as many languages as their parents spoke, but mostly in Hebrew, Italian, and English.
"In the kitchen," Tony called out; he turned back to the broken lamp pieces and nodded to the boys. "We got this, and maybe it's a good thing we have more hands to put the lamp back together…"
"Hi, Abba," Tali came into the kitchen. "Mrs. Pearsall brought me home; Ima called. She's stuck in traffic on the Beltway. She said she tried to call you, Abba."
Tony remembered that his phone was still on his office desk, "Hi, Tals. Yeah, we had a bit of a disaster here. My phone is on my desk; would you go get it in case Ima calls again, please?"
"Will do; how'd the lamp get broken?"
"Long story; we'll fill you in as we put it back together," he replied. Tali quickly retrieved her father's phone and handed it to him. He swiped the screen and saw two missed calls and a text message from Ziva. He decided to reply to her text since she was probably driving. 'All okay here; Tali home. See you when you get here.'
He turned to the kids, "Okay, we are going to build this like one of your 3-D puzzles. We'll Superglue the pieces and build upwards. If we need hands to hold, LJ you go first, so we can use height as needed. Questions?"
"Got it, Abba."
"All right then, here we go," Tony put several drops of Superglue on the first piece and carefully put it into place. "We'll give a few minutes to set and then add the next pieces." He was about to put the glue on the second piece when his phone rang. He looked at the caller ID. Ziva.
He picked up the phone from the table and swiped the screen, "Hey sweet cheeks."
"I am still sitting on the Wilson Bridge; the signs say there is an accident just the other side of the bridge," Ziva informed her husband. "Would you or Tali put the pot of chili on the stove on low? That way it will be started heating when I do finally get home."
"Sure thing, do you want us to get anything else ready?"
"I will get Anthony to help me make the cornbread when I get home," she replied. "I think the twins will be home before me today. I will call when I get closer. Love you."
"Love you too," Tony ended the call on his end and returned to the kids. "Now where were we?" He grabbed the Superglue and added drops to the second piece, carefully positioning it. "LJ, please hold this piece in place while I slide the next one in."
He stacked pieces adding glue to hold them in place; Anthony and Tali were enlisted to hold other pieces. There were two left when Tony heard the front door open. He slid the penultimate piece in place and held it.
"I am home," Ziva called out as Asher raced to greet his person. She gave him some scratches behind his ears and then the two headed to the family room.
"In the kitchen," Tony called out. "All of us…" He moved his hand and the piece he was holding wobbled so he put the hand back in place and added another drop of glue.
"What… are…" Ziva stopped with her mouth open at the sight; Tony and the three kids were around the table holding on to what had been a lamp from the family room. "What happened?" she narrowed her eyes and glared at her husband.
Anthony decided to be the brave one, "It was an accident Ima. LJ and I were playing with the Nerf basketball and I threw it. Daisy jumped up to catch the ball and bumped into the table… We got it almost fixed…"
Tony grinned at his better half, "Just one more piece to be glued in place… we could really use an extra set of hands." He gave her his best puppy eyes.
"Fine," she huffed and put some glue on the last piece. She slid it into place and held it to set. "Now what?"
"We hold everything for another minute or two and then slowly let go," Tony explained the plan to everyone. "We start at the bottom, so LJ you let go first."
LJ nodded and tried to free his hands, "Um, Abba, I'm stuck to the lamp."
Anthony and Tali tried to move their hands with the same results. Tony tried not to panic as he realized that he too was glued to the lamp. Darn Superglue. He smirked at Ziva.
""Go ahead, tell me 'I told you so' and get it over with," he watched as she tried to move her hand away from the final piece.
"I seem to be attached to the piece I put in place," Ziva put a hand on Tony's arm and tried to use him for leverage to remove her other hand. No luck and when she tried to pull away from her husband, her fingers were glued to his arm.
"OW! PLEASE don't rip your fingers away; you'll take my skin with them," Tony grimaced. "Acetone, nail polish remover; that's what we need."
"I have some in our bathroom, but none of us is going to be able to get it," Ziva commented.
Tali nodded, "I have some in my room also. What time will Grandpa get home with the twins?" All of them tried to see the clock on the microwave. "Microwave says six twelve."
"They usually get home between 1815 and 1830," Ziva noted to the others. "When they get here, no one let either Beth or Riv touch any of us. We do not all need to be stuck together."
LJ grinned at his brother, "Well, you know, Ima and Abba, you always say we should stick together and have each other's six."
The family chuckled; LJ did have a point. Luckily, they didn't have a long wait as the twins and Gibbs walked in the front door at 1817.
"We are in the kitchen," Ziva called out. "And we need your help!"
Rivka and Beth put away their bags with their gymnastics clothes and hung their jackets on the coat tree by the front door. They shared a look at their mother's comment. For what could the entire family possibly need their help?
Gibbs and the two girls entered the kitchen to the five DiNozzos all standing around the kitchen breakfast nook table. They were all holding on to what looked like one of the family room lamps.
"Don't ask," Tony sighed. "Riv, I need you to go into my and Ima's bathroom and get the nail polish remover. Beth you go get Tali's from her room."
Ziva added, "It's in the second drawer on the left side," as Rivka took off in the direction of the master suite.
"On my nightstand," Tali called out to her sister, "With the bottles of nail polish. There's also a box of polish remover wipes."
The twins returned with the bottles of remover, the wipes, and a box of cotton swabs. Gibbs carefully swabbed with the acetone to free each DiNozzo, one at a time, starting with LJ. He had each of the kids wipe their hands with the acetone wipes to remove any remaining Superglue from their skin and then sent them to wash their hands with soap and water.
After Tony was freed from the lamp, Gibbs freed Ziva's hand from the lamp piece and handed the bottle to Tony to free Ziva's hand from his arm.
LJ came running into the kitchen just as Ziva and Tony were finally unstuck. "Ima, what's for dinner? I'm hungry!"
"Crap; the chili! I forgot to put the pot on the stove," Tony gave his wife a sheepish grin. "I'm sorry…"
"It is no big deal; you were stuck elsewhere," Ziva quipped to laughter from the family. "I think we should order pizza for dinner and we can have the chili another night."
Tony called in the family's usual pizza order as the kids set the table. Ziva made a salad from the vegetables in the refrigerator and within thirty minutes the family was enjoying the meal.
Gibbs shook his head, "Gotta admit; you do stick together."
Beth nodded with a mouth full of pizza. She smiled and spoke with her mouth full, "Yep, DiNozzos stick together always."
"We got each other's six," Anthony added.
"Yep, we are DiNozzos, and we stick together," Tali summed up.
"LIKE SUPERGLUE!" the others added as one.
Tony grinned at Ziva, "I think we just came up with a family motto. We are DiNozzos and we stick together; like Superglue!"