July 2, 2006: At some impossibly late hour, I'm actually going to try to type out a rather odd idea that lodged in my brain and won't let me go. Perhaps if I write it down, it will release me and I'll be able to sleep at night. ;)

I don't own these characters nor is any infringement intended. Just having fun, folks.

This hasn't been Betaed so any inconsistencies or structural errors are my own darned fault. Gibbs is still the team leader, so I guess that places it somewhere before he departs at the end of last season or after he returns.

Here we go…

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Contemplations

By lilmouse

"You know that when I hate you, it is because I love you to a point of passion that unhinges my soul."

- Julie de Lespinasse (1732-1776)

Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto paused, unaware that she had stopped just shy of clearing the stairs from other pedestrian traffic. Her thick-soled boots made no sound on the concrete and that was probably just as well.

Though maybe if her steps had been loud, the couple less than fifty feet in front of her would have pulled away from one another at her approach and she wouldn't have seen… anything.

She almost stumbled in her haste to remain perfectly still and therefore, somehow, remain hidden in the shadow of the building. Being dressed entirely in black on a hot summer's day was sufficiently unusual that anyone was likely to notice her even at a casual glance but she willed herself to be invisible, just for a few minutes, just so they could collect themselves. Finish what they were doing.

Peel the woman from the surface of the back door and press her into the passenger seat.

Drive away without noticing her noticing them

I knew I should've waited for the sun to go down, she thought fiercely. It was just after 1800 hours and she had leftover jambalaya calling her name. She could catch up on her blog and a few recent forensic reports she'd been meaning to review. How often was she sent home early? And look where that had gotten her today?

She hesitated then took a step backwards, her mind on a stealthy retreat - and almost yelped when she connected with a body.

"Abby -"

Abby turned swiftly and clamped a hand over the mouth of Officer Ziva David. The other woman was sufficiently startled that she just stared, brown eyes wide. Abby considered herself fortunate that the highly trained Mossad agent hadn't react instinctively or she'd be pinned to the floor of the parking lot in a death grip right now.

She placed the forefinger of her free hand to her pursed, bright-red lips and uttered ever so faintly: "Shhhhhhh."

Ziva nodded slightly that she understood and the hand was removed. Silently Abby pointed towards the rows of cars and Ziva looked - and saw. She wasn't sure how long she stared, lips parted, oddly hypnotized by the couple that seemed oblivious to their location. As she watched them, she abruptly became aware that the heat of the early evening wasn't the only thing raising her temperature.

There was a tug on the sleeve of her shirt. She looked at Abby, who bobbed her head, pigtails shaking, indicating they should go back up the stairs. Ziva frowned and lifted her right hand, showing her keys. She wanted to go home, such as it was, and really, the couple shouldn't be in the parking lot like that, even if they didn't care about the security cameras. Anyone could interrupt them. It might as well be someone he knows, Ziva thought, at least someone who won't yell at him.

Unlike Gibbs -

But when she tried to pull her arm free, the grip on the fabric tightened. With a sigh and a glance back at the source of her delay, she moved carefully up the flight of stairs. They stopped when they reached the top. There was a barrier there, solid and a good place for hiding. The two women dropped like stones, resting their backs against the concrete, staring ahead at nothing as they each replayed what they had just witnessed.

Abby spoke first. "How could he?" she asked in a tense whisper, though she doubted if the couple would be able to hear her if she spoke at a normal volume.

Ziva wasn't sure if this was a rhetorical question or not. She looked at her teammate - friend? She smiled grimly. Sometimes it was difficult to know with Abby. The young woman was mercurial - not unlike the man she had been saddled with as a partner in this confusing country -

"It is a very public place," she agreed. Abby turned her head slowly, eyes narrowed.

"That isn't the point."

"Are you lovers?"

"No!"

"Then he isn't cheating on you?"

"No!"

"Then what does it matter who he kisses?"

"That," Abby growled, "is Melanie and she has been breaking hearts all through the office since the Christmas party two years ago."

Ziva snorted. She thought of the scene they had encountered. The man was pressing the woman against a car door, both obviously unable to wait until leaving the premises to express their… affection. They were heavily engaged with one another in a very… intimate way. Well, they were both consenting adults - though sometimes she wondered about the intellectual level of the man in question. He was a capable agent, yes, and she trusted him - mostly - to watch her back, but his hormones seemed too often to be in charge.

Like now, she thought, smirking slightly. Maybe she could get the footage from security and blackmail him with it somehow. Her smile faded as she replayed exactly how good he looked with half his shirt undone, hair tousled, obviously skilful at making the woman he was kissing so thoroughly, so hungrily, squirm in the heat under the pressure of his body -

Maybe a tape of that would be too tempting to keep.

"I hate him."

That snapped Ziva back to their hiding place behind the concrete. "What?"

"Its appalling! I mean, what does he know about her? Doesn't he see the warning signs? How could he do this to me?"

Those were all questions heavily laden with issues and Ziva wasn't entirely sure how to respond, or whether or not she was expected to respond at all. She chose the least complicated one and tried her best to follow where Abby was taking her.

Maybe we're bonding…

"But you just said -"

"He's my friend, Ziva. He knows I don't like her and he should know better than to go out with someone like Melanie." Abby sighed. "She's a user."

"And how many women does he profess to go out with in any given week?"

"That's different." Abby dismissed the point with a gesture of her hand. "I don't know who they are or how serious he is about them. That -" She jerked her thumb in the direction of the couple. " - looks alarmingly serious. I don't want him getting hurt."

"He is a big boy, Abby. I'm sure he can take care of himself."

Abby folded her arms and 'harrumphed'. "He's very sensitive." Ziva stifled a laugh when the other woman glared at her. "He is, he just doesn't show it all the time. He's… vulnerable."

They lapsed into silence as Ziva thought about this assessment.

Tony DiNozzo. Sensitive. Vulnerable.

The words weren't connecting very well in her head but then she hadn't known him as long as Abby had. Tony tended to maintain a bravado that she recognized all too well. He seemed to like the world to believe that he thought the universe revolved around him. He was a chauvinistic, pig-headed, impossible playboy who liked to play 'cowboy' and save the girl from the bad guys.

She'd lost track of the number of times she'd seen him take charge and get the job done right. Seen him find and connect clues that were eluding the others.

Seen him enjoy life without apparently worrying what tomorrow would bring.

Ziva looked at her watch then tipped her head back to look at the sky. Must be nice…

"We can't stay here forever," she finally said. "Someone will interrupt them and it might as well be us. At least it won't be Gibbs… or the Director." She could easily picture the reaction of both people and neither one was pleasant. Your personal life was supposed to be kept personal - and off-site.

It would be nice to have a personal life…

Abby chewed her bottom lip, knowing they should do something but not convinced there wasn't a better solution. She had to protect Tony from himself sometimes - this wouldn't be the first 'intervention' - but she didn't know if this was the right moment to make her point and she wasn't at all sure about Ziva being present. She sighed. There was nothing she could do about Ziva. The other woman had seen Tony and Melanie in a compromising position and that was that. She sighed again. "I just… so wasn't expecting this and I just… don't want to deal with it right now."

"But we have to. I want to go home." Emboldened by her desire to escape the office, Ziva turned and peered over the top of the barrier.

"Are they gone?"

Ziva hated to disappoint her but had to tell the truth. "No…"

"They aren't, you know, doing it in the parking lot, are they?"

Abby sounded like she was going to break if the answer was 'yes'. Fortunately, they were still wearing clothes. Though, Ziva noted, Tony's shirt was completely undone now, revealing the muscular chest and fine hairs curled there that she had witnessed a few times in the course of their job, especially during their undercover assignment at the hotel when they replaced a married couple. Ziva blushed slightly, remembering that game of pretend and cleared her throat, trying to focus on the Now.

"No, they aren't 'doing it', as you say, though…"

"What?"

"His hand is up her skirt."

"What?"

Abby shifted so she could peer over the barrier as well. Despite the distressing view, she could imagine the words 'Kilroy was here' engraved beneath their faces. There was a pause before either of them could find their tongues to speak again.

"At least he could go for a real blonde," Abby griped.

"That is definitely out of a bottle," Ziva agreed, glancing sideways at Abby's dyed black hair but refraining from comment.

"And her legs are too long," Abby continued critically. "It makes her look out of proportion."

"I don't think that colour really suits her," Ziva added. Though Tony obviously doesn't have a problem with women in fuchsia…

"Not that we're jealous or anything."

"Absolutely not."

"We could have someone who pays that much attention to us, if we wanted to."

"Absolutely."

"We don't, though, do we?"

"I know I don't," Ziva said quietly, becoming subdued.

Abby sighed. "Me neither."

They sat back down and stared ahead again, uncertain how to proceed.

"Maybe he's found 'the one'," Ziva suggested tentatively. "You know, the woman of his dreams."

Abby shook her head. "Puh-lease. She collects phone numbers as a hobby and has notches on her bedpost. I know of five different guys at the office who've been burned by her."

"They confided in you?"

The woman in black rolled her eyes. "It is amazing what you learn at the water cooler at three in the morning, just after the break-up."

"Tony isn't stupid," Ziva stated firmly, and then stopped when she realized what she'd just said. He wasn't stupid. She knew that, but it was safer not to dwell on his positive attributes or think about him too much at all beyond what was absolutely necessary, the less interaction the better. He couldn't be anything other than her work partner, especially since she had to sit across from him every day and watch his social life blur around him…

"No, he isn't, but he's a guy, Ziva. They don't always think with their heads. She'll use him and throw him away and he'll pull out the mask he has to hide his rejection and seek approval from another woman."

"Ah." Ziva wasn't sure if she followed that line of thought completely but it didn't really matter. The distress and concern were sincere.

Suddenly, Abby was rummaging through her purse and triumphantly retrieved her cell phone. "I'll call him and let him know he needs to get going."

"How are you going to do that without letting him know we've been voyagers?"

"That's 'voyeurs', Ziva, and we aren't. Voyeurs gain sexual pleasure from watching others taking part in… sexual pleasure."

"And we get no pleasure from watching this because it is Tony?"

"Right."

"And she is a user."

"Right."

"And we must rescue him from the embarrassment of public exposure with this woman."

"Yes." Abby slid a glance at Ziva before admitting, "Though it is kinda hot."

Ziva tried not to agree. Instead she focussed on Abby pressing a number she had on speed dial and waited anxiously for something to happen. She leaned closer so she could catch the conversation.

It took four rings before a husky voice said, "DiNozzo."

"Tony? It's me."

"Hey, Abbs. Look, I'm kinda… busy right now." They could hear a moan from the woman. I guess his prowess as a lover is not unfounded, Ziva thought and filed it away for future reference. The number of push-ups he achieved while we were undercover did hint at a high endurance so he might be quite -

Ziva mentally squished that last thought until it was silenced.

"Yes, we know - I mean -" She glanced furtively at Ziva. "I'm sure you are but you have to stop and go somewhere else or the security cameras will have it all on tape." There was no subtle way to say it. She could only hope it would be enough.

This news immediately got his attention. Ziva glanced over the top of the barrier long enough to note that they were standing apart now, straightening their clothing. She had thought only cold water would do that but the power of words was once again proven to be just as potent. She ducked back down.

"Where are you?" he asked, apparently looking around. The two women instinctively hunkered even further though it made no difference. There was no way Tony could see them up here.

"That isn't important right now, "Abby continued. "Just…" She shared a look with Ziva who shrugged, uncertain how she could help. "Just pull yourselves together and get in the car and go, before someone comes and catches you."

"Wait, you said 'we' know. Who else is with you, wherever you are?"

Investigative skills still functioning, Abby thought proudly, then ended the call by saying, "Just go, Tony. Now." She flipped her phone shut and waited. Gibbs would be proud of that tactic, she thought.

A door slammed then a few beats later another door was heard. The engine started and a car pulled out of the parking lot at a safe pace though haste was evidently on their minds.

Abby and Ziva released a breath they didn't realize they'd been holding and stood, wiping absently at their clothes in an effort to remove any traces of dust.

"Well done, Abby." Ziva extended her hand.

Abby grinned and took it. "Thank you." They shook twice, firmly and seriously, like it was a secret handshake just between them.

"Next time," a very male voice said from below, "Stay hidden until you're sure the coast is clear."

Startled, both women looked down at Tony, who was gazing up at them while still buttoning his shirt. They each tried not to notice how sexy he looked, especially since he was in what Abby called 'cop mode'.

Silently, guiltily, they descended the stairs and hurried passed him to their respective vehicles.

"Good night, Tony," Abby said, fairly launching herself into the car so he wouldn't see her embarrassment, though her mind was already formulating the next step to ensure that he wasn't Melanie's next victim.

"Good night, Tony," Ziva said, eyeing him in a manner he would expect and trying not to blush at his frank appraisal of her. It was something they did, walk the line between teasing and meaning it. She slid behind the wheel of her car, hoping he wouldn't hold this incident against her. She also hoped he would learn from this and not become so involved in the parking lot again. It was unprofessional. They were government agents. He was her partner.

And he had no right to look that good.

Tony watched, bemused, as two of the most confusing, scary and beautiful women he knew raced towards the exit, Ziva's vehicle beating Abby's by a narrow margin. At least they didn't have an accident.

Women, he thought, and moved languidly towards his own car, tossing his keys and whistling as he went.

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