“Dis way, momma?”
Ziva wipes an arm across her brow, and looks up from the dough she had been kneading with no mercy for the past half hour. Her mouth, which was pursed in concentration just moments before from exertion, breaks into a wide grin across her face at the sight before her, despite the mess her eyes fall upon.
“Kapara sheli,” Ziva exclaims with a laugh, and grabs a towel to wipe her hands so she can grab her phone. “You are more of a mess than our Challah.”
The little girl gives her the familiar, infamous grin she inherited, and Ziva snaps a picture. Once her mother lowers her phone, she drops her small hands, going back to her imitation of kneading dough. With each pummel of her little fists, a small puff of flour is sent into the air. Ziva shakes her head with amusement and defeat, resigning herself to the mess she’ll be at the end of the day, and sends the picture to her partner.
Putting aside her phone, Ziva returns her attention to the little girl, watching her with a warm smile. It’s not long before the little girl seems to sense her mother’s gaze on her. She looks up then, and the flour that’s found it’s way on her nose makes Ziva smile wider. Frowning, the little girl scolds her, unaware she’s the source of her mother’s amusement.
“Momma, we gotsta hurry bafore daddy come home,” she says emphatically, before returning her attention back to her small lump of dough.
Ziva’s phone beeps and flashes with an incoming message, and she laughs as she reads the daddy in question’s response.
DiNozzo, Tony: I’m not on bath duty tonight. She’s all yours.
She chuckles and types back a quick response, before setting her phone aside and returning her attention, once again, to her daughter.
Baking the Challah bread had been her partner’s idea. Ziva had hesitated with introducing her to the bond they shared. Their heritage was one of the many doors that could lead to a past that she wished their daughter to remain untouched by. She’d relented only when her partner had pointed out that baking bread wasn’t exactly gateway to the world of Mossad.
As anxious as she had been about the thought earlier, she hardly registered the anxiety now as she watched her daughter laugh and play, squealing every time she squeezes the gooey dough between her fingers.
Eventually, Ziva returned her attention back to the dough in front of her, going from kneading to preparing to braid it. She feels her daughter’s gaze as she shifts her attention to her mothers work. Ziva pauses after several minutes, and she looks up to regard her daughter’s inquisitive expression.
“Would you like to help me with this part, tateleh?
She grins, nodding, and Ziva wipes her hands once more, before coming to the other side of the kitchen island. She grabs her daughter’s chair, and the little girl giggles as Ziva drags her around to the other side of the counter, coming to a stop beside her. She gazes up at Ziva expectantly, patches of flour now all over her face. Unable to help herself, Ziva plants a kiss on her forehead. Her daughter laughs, and brings up her arm to rest her flour-covered hand on her mother’s cheek.
“You show me?” she asks Ziva, grinning.
Her chest tightens with emotion, and Ziva wipes at the flour on her tiny nose, before guiding her daughter’s hands with hers.
“Ken, I will show you,” she confirms softly, and begins delicately moving the dough between their hands, just the way her mother showed her a lifetime ago.
It was one of the few memories she had left of her mother, and for a moment, she aches with the loss of all they’d never have.
But as Ziva looks down at the grinning little girl that is her own, she realizes that she has a whole lifetime of memories yet to come.
Her hands tighten around her daughters’, and the little girl looks up at her mother briefly.
“Da Challah ‘z for… Shabbat?,” she tries, hesitating, as she recalls the little that her mother had taught her earlier in the day. “Ken?”
Ziva’s eyes are glassy as she nods in confirmation.
“Ken, very good.” She praises, and they share a smile. The loaf is almost completed when they hear the front door open, and heavy, familiar, footsteps grow louder.
The pair look up, and Tony smiles warmly at the sight before him.
“Shalom,” he smirks, and walks toward them. Coming to stand beside Ziva, she greets him with a shy smile, and she nods toward the little girl grinning up at them.
“What do we say for Shabbat, tatehleh? Teach your father.”
Tony looks at Ziva in mild surprise and pride, and presses a quick kiss to her cheek before bending down in front of their daughter, still perched on the chair.
Mirroring her father’s identical smile, she reaches out her still dough-covered fingers to lean against his shoulder.
“Shabbat Sh’lom,” she tests, saying slowly and carefully, grinning up at her mother for approval.
Tony turns his head up to grin widely at Ziva, and the partners share a loaded look. She swipes at her eyes, resting her hand on Tony’s shoulder. Reaching for her, he entwines it in his own, before turning back to their daughter.
“Shabbat Shalom,” Tony echoes softly. He squeezes Ziva’s hand tightly, and she threads her fingers tighter around his grasp, squeezing firmly back.
This is wonderful.