Chapter 6 – Epilogue
Spring term flew by; even with a small bout of morning sickness, Ziva's pregnancy went smoothly. Her regular appointments were always scheduled so that Tony could go with her. At sixteen weeks or estimated thereabouts, she had a sonogram to confirm the size of the fetus, and hence, the due date. Although grainy, the image could be clearly discerned to be a developing baby. The sonogram tech printed a picture for the expectant parents to take with them.
Tony put the picture on the refrigerator with several magnets, "Our first baby picture!" Every morning when they woke, Tony put his hand on Ziva's growing baby bump, "Good morning baby DiNozzo." Ziva thought it so sweet that he was already 'interacting' with their child.
The couple discussed how the baby would be encouraged to address them as parents; Tony wanted to use 'Daddy' or the Italian 'Papa.' Ziva suggested the Hebrew 'Abba.' They did agree their child would use 'Ima' for Ziva and left it open-ended for Tony. When the topic of grandparents came up, both agreed that Ziva's mother would be 'Savta.' Neither one cared to think about asking their fathers to embrace the role of grandfather. Each month Ziva called her mother and Tony gradually became a part of the calls, chatting with his mother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Final exams came and went and finally graduation day arrived. Both had obtained cap and gown and Ziva had an honors sash, and medals from two honor societies; her cumulative GPA was an impressive 4.0. Her diploma was awarded summa cum laude. Tony had breezed through his final semester and earned all As. His final GPA was 3.25, earning him a cum laude designation.
At the arena, both were standing with classmates ready to march into the ceremony. A staff member from the Registrar's office called out names to line them up alphabetically.
"… DiNozzo, Anthony; DiNozzo, Ziva…" The couple lined up with the others and held hands. Ziva leaned into Tony as he wrapped an arm around his wife. He fussed over her, worrying that she didn't need to be on her feet for so long considering that she was seven months pregnant.
"I am fine, Tony. If nothing else, the excitement will help me get through," she smiled at her husband. "I had never planned to walk, but with you at my side, it is the best feeling in the world. We are doing this together, neshama!"
The graduates marched in to cheers and applause filling the arena. They took their seats and half-listened to the talking heads on the stage. The school president droned on for twenty minutes; Tony spent most of that time with Ziva leaning her head on his shoulder and him placing gentle kisses on her head. Various deans had their turns and then finally it was time for the individual graduates to receive their diplomas.
Tony and Ziva stood with the rest of their row and queued at the steps to the stage; the line inched forward. Tony was next.
"Anthony D. DiNozzo, Junior; Bachelor of Arts, Physical Education, cum laude." Tony kissed Ziva and climbed the steps to receive his diploma; he smiled for the photographer and proceeded to the opposite side of the stage.
"Ziva DiNozzo; Bachelor of Arts, with Honors, International Studies and Linguistics, summa cum laude." Ziva climbed the stairs and strode to the podium to receive her diploma. She smiled at the photographer and looked at the other side of the stage where Tony was waiting for her. She walked quickly and fell into his arms. They shared a quick kiss before Tony helped her down the stairs.
"We did it, Ziva," Tony kissed his wife again as they returned to their seats. "We're officially college graduates." He locked gazes with her and the two tuned out the rest of the world; they were in their own world.
After the ceremony, the couple stopped at the reception for the graduates. Tony filled a plate with food that he and Ziva shared. They didn't stay long as neither had family to show off or have pictures taken. The one place they did stop before leaving was at the photographer's table to order their prints of the photos of each receiving a diploma and one of the two of them sharing a kiss that the photographer's assistant had captured. Ziva paid for the package and wrote their new address on the order form.
"Are you ready to finish up loading the truck to leave in the morning?" Tony asked his wife on the way back to their apartment for their last night there.
"I am ready to start our new life," Ziva replied. Both had accepted jobs with a charter school in Virginia; Tony would be teaching physical education to the students in grades four through twelve. Ziva's job was teaching languages to the same grade levels. The school had an on-site daycare for faculty and staff, so their baby would be nearby all day.
The couple settled into the rented house near campus and spent the month of July readying the baby's room using gender-neutral shades that could later coordinate with colors for a boy or a girl. The second Saturday in August, after a week of new faculty orientation, their new colleagues threw a baby shower for the couple. Sunday was spent sorting through the diapers, tiny clothes, bedding, toys, and new parent supplies and writing thank you notes.
On 22 August at 0235, Ziva woke Tony, "It is time." He grabbed her pre-packed bag and helped her into their newly acquired minivan. At 1812, their son took his first breaths. Tony had been there with Ziva for the entire labor and delivery. He cut the umbilical cord as the doctor supervised. The nurse brought the baby back to his parents after measuring him.
"Twenty-one inches long and eight pounds, two ounces; Apgar nine point five," she informed them. "Congratulations!"
Two days later, Tony brought his wife and son home. He helped Ziva into the house, carrying the baby in his car seat. Ziva gasped as the front door opened and her Ima came running out.
"Ima, what are you doing here?" she hugged her mother and noticed her sister standing by the door. "Tali? Oh my, it is so good to see both of you."
"My Zivaleh, let me see you," her Ima held her face between her hands. "You have changed; so grown up now. And my grandson; so beautiful." Tony put the baby in his mother-in-law's arms. "Toda."
Ziva hugged her sister, "How?"
"Abba arranged for us to fly on a private jet owned by Mossad after Tony called to tell us that the baby was born," Tali smiled at her brother-in-law. "When we arrived at Dulles, Tony was waiting to pick us up."
"They will be staying with us for about three weeks, Ziva," Tony sat next to his wife. She now had the baby in her arms. He placed a kiss on her cheek. "I hope that's okay with you?"
Ziva turned to her husband, "Ken, neshama, toda raba. I mean, yes, thank you so much." She met his kiss with her own.
"I have one more surprise for you," he added. "I contacted the Rabbi at the synagogue in town. Our son's bris is all set up. I hope you don't mind that I invited your father, and mine."
On the eighth day of his life, Aiden Anthony DiNozzo was formally introduced to the world. He cried briefly as the cuts were made. Tony then held up his son and announced the name he and Ziva chose for the newest DiNozzo.
As the family celebrated with the congregants at the synagogue, Eli David entered the room. He scanned the group and then pulled Rivka David aside before he joined the party. She gave him a confused look.
"I wanted you to know this first," Eli explained to his ex-wife. "I received a report that the bus that our Tali would have been on to attend her voice lessons was attacked by a Hamas suicide bomber. There were no survivors. Perhaps this is a sign that our Ziva going against my wishes was a good thing."
When the little family arrived back at the house, Tony saw a familiar vehicle in the street in front of the house. As he helped Ziva out of their minivan, he heard a voice call out.
"Junior!" his father stepped from the black Cadillac. "I came to meet my grandson."
Two years later, on the day after Tony's birthday, the couple welcomed their daughter into the world. Elisheva Rivka, named for her grandmothers, weighed nearly eight pounds and was twenty and one half inches long. Family came from New York and Israel to celebrate.
The jock and the coed lived a long and happy life together.
"Cut!" Anthony IV called out to the camera operator. He handed his wife Margaret a glass of water as she sat back to relax after the round of filming for the Soulmates project.
"Saba, I never knew you thought about other ways you and Savta could have met," he commented to his grandfather.
"I didn't; I just made up that whole story when Margaret asked me if it could have happened any other way," Tony replied.
Ziva squeezed his hand, "Well I thought it was a very good story."
"Yeah, Zi, but if I had to do OUR story over again, I wouldn't change a thing," he grinned at his wife. "We may have done things in a strange order, and definitely not the usual way. We did it our way, and I wouldn't change a bit of it. Five kids, fifteen grandkids, and a new generation just beginning. Ani ohev otach, Ziva." He leaned towards the woman who had been his better half for so many years locking his lips on hers.