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How to Be a DiNozzo

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Chapter 34 –Ze'ev ( זאב)(wolf) – September 2023

"Tell us a story, Tali," three-year-old Beth was sitting on her big sister's bed in her red pajamas. Her twin was lying across the foot of the bed wearing similar blue pajamas.

Nearly two-year-old LJ nodded and grinned at his big sister, "Sto-wee; pweese." He had on his favorite lion pajamas and was holding his plush lion toy. Rivka helped him up onto the bed and he sat down by the twins.

"When Anthony gets done brushing his teeth, we can all tell the story," Tali looked to the bathroom to see if her brother was finished getting ready for bed. "We're all waiting for you, Anthony," she called out to the closed door.

"I'm ready," Anthony came into Tali's room from the hallway. "I just checked on Mrs. Bailey; she's still asleep in Abba's recliner." The sitter for the night was the great-grandmother of one of the neighbor families; none of the usual sitters were available that evening, so Ziva had reluctantly called the elderly woman.

"Good thinking," Tali grinned at her brother as he sat on the floor next to Daisy, his Border collie. "Since you're here we can start the bedtime story. What or who should be the main theme?" She looked to the others for ideas.

"Woof," LJ replied almost immediately. Asher the greyhound came into the room and flopped down on the floor near LJ.

Beth shook her head, "No, LJ; Abba did a dog story last night."

"WOOF," he repeated. "Ah-oooo…" he howled like a wolf to emphasize his choice.

"Wolf," Anthony figured out what his little brother was trying to say. "I like the wolf idea as long as it isn't a scary story. I don't like the big bad wolf stories."

Tali agreed with Anthony, "Wolves are often misunderstood in stories and myths. They are often associated with bad or evil when in fact they are very social and adaptable. Wolves are not prone to fighting; rather they avoid conflict whenever possible. They are pack animals and look after each other and the young. Wolves are intelligent, friendly, and caring animals."

"Wow, Tali; how do you know so much about wolves?" Riv was impressed.

"I did the report for my TAG class about wolves in May; remember the Science Fair at the school?"

Beth sat up, "I do! Ima helped you set up and you had the wolf fur from Grandpa's cabin."

"It's called a pelt," Tali reminded her sister. "Grandpa let me borrow it for my presentation. Anyhow, our story is about wolves or just one wolf?"

LJ held up two fingers, "Two; me two."

"Okay, two wolves; a boy wolf and a girl wolf. Do they have names?" Tali looked at her sisters since the twins liked to name everything and anything.

"Abba and Ima!" Riv shouted out.

"No, Tony and Ziva," her twin corrected. The girls had just learned their parents' full names in preschool as a means to learning about emergency contacts and being able to identify themselves in an emergency situation.

Anthony groaned loudly, "Do not make this a Prince Tony and Ninja Princess Ziva story; please…"

"What's wrong with Prince Tony and Ninja Princess Ziva?" Beth challenged her older brother. "I like stories about them, especially when both Abba and Ima tell them."

"Prince and princess stories are for girls," he retorted. "Stick with me on this, LJ. We boys want some action and excitement in our stories." LJ nodded to his big brother and grinned; Anthony had a feeling that the toddler had no idea as to what he'd just agreed.

Tali tried to compromise, "How about Prince Tony and Ninja Princess Ziva the wolves have an adventure? Where can they go?"

"Do they have five pups?" Rivka asked the others. "If they do, it can be a family adventure."

Anthony decided he had to steer the story in a slightly different direction, "What if they are special agent wolves? And they are taking down the bad guys? The pups are at home. Then the Ninja can kick some butts."

LJ giggled when his big brother said the word 'butts.' He pointed at Anthony, "You say BUTT."

"Ooh, ooh," Beth jumped up and down on the bed to get attention. "Let's make the bad guys be squirrels. Then the wolves can chase them like Asher and Daisy chase the squirrels in our yard." Daisy raised her head when she heard her name and Asher's tail thumped on the floor as he heard his name.

"Bad skwir; bad, bad skwir," LJ clapped his hands and giggled more. Asher stood up and nudged the little boy. LJ gave the greyhound some pets on the head and kisses on his nose. "Asher get bad skwir."

Daisy laid her head in Anthony's lap to get attention. He stroked her fur and nuzzled her head, "Good girl; you get those nasty squirrels with Asher. Chase them out of our yard." The Border collie rolled on her back so her person could rub her belly.

"The squirrels robbed a bank and took the money for the Marines' pay," Tali added her two cents' worth to the story. "So, Prince Tony and Ninja Princess Ziva the wolves are heading to the crime scene to investigate. Are they going to find the squirrels still there or have the squirrels run away already?"

Anthony thought about the next part of the story, "I think the squirrels are on the run. They took the loot and left in a hurry. The wolves will find them though because they can track the stupid squirrels by their footprints. And the squirrels are not very smart; they think that no one can describe them to the special agent wolves. But the security cameras caught it all, even the really dumb squirrel who looked right at the camera and made a silly face."

"Bad skwir; dumb skwir. Go to lock up," LJ added his part. "Gampa and woofs kick skwir butts."

Tali laughed, "LJ, you just wanted to say 'butt' again. But I like the idea of the wolves kicking some squirrel butt. Ninja Princess Ziva just needs to give one swat of her paw and the squirrels are flying and dying."

"And Grandpa puts them in handcuffs and takes them to NCIS," Riv added. "Those dumb squirrels will be in big trouble if they mess with the Ninja Princess. She will swat their butts into next week."

"If Grandpa doesn't head slap them first," Beth interjected.

"Kick skwir butt!" LJ laughed and repeated it again.

Anthony continued the story, "The squirrels are in interrogation, in three separate rooms. Ninja Princess Ziva has the one who ran and she stomped his tail making him flip upside down. She raises a paw and he confesses because he is scared of her. Prince Tony has the dumb squirrel. The dumb one just makes weird faces as Prince Tony shows him the security images. Prince Tony tells the dumb squirrel that he is going to be in squirrel prison for a long, long time. Stupid squirrel laughs and Ninja Princess comes into the room and raises a paw at him. He thinks she is joking and she makes him a wall ornament."

"Kick skwir butt," LJ giggled from where he was lying down on Tali's bed. His eyes were almost closed until Anthony mentioned swatting the squirrel.

"The third squirrel is the ring leader and Grandpa is breaking him," Tali picked up the story. She glanced at her sisters who were almost asleep on her pillows. "Ninja Princess Ziva is ready to kick his tail because he is lying about the robbery. Prince Tony is trying to keep her from hurting the squirrel, but Grandpa gets in the guy's face and tells him to tell the truth or he will turn the Ninja wolf loose on him. The fool squirrel laughs as Grandpa waves the Ninja in…"

"Kick skwir butt," LJ added sleepily. He yawned and hugged his lion as Anthony continued the story from where he was curled up with Daisy on the floor pillows.

"Ninja Princess Ziva swats the ring leader squirrel into the corner of the room. She takes the squirrel's tail in her mouth and slings him across the room. He tells Grandpa that he will confess if Grandpa will make the Ninja stop. Ninja Princess Ziva goes into the observation room with Prince Tony and they watch the confession." Anthony yawned and rolled on his side to face Tali. She was on her back on the blankets on the floor with her cat Simba.

"Case solved," Tali concluded. "Now Ninja Princess Ziva and Prince Tony can go home to the pups and have dinner. And the squirrels are going to squirrel prison for a long time." She looked up at the three sleeping siblings on her bed. "Night everyone…"

"Good night," Anthony mumbled half asleep. "Kick squirrel butt…"