Whatever Could Happen
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: While the cat's away…
A/N: This was begun before I'd even heard the rumors about the season finale, so the similarities are purely coincidental.
Many thanks to Shordy for the beta, and Caliga and Wiccagirl24 for the awesome feedback!
Finally. This is a oneshot, and Shordy encouraged me to leave it that way.
The director looked like hell. Her hair was a mess; her eyes were tired and bloodshot. I stared as she descended the stairs from her office. She was heading our way.
"Incoming," I warned Ziva, who was IMing with someone, and McGee who was playing with photoshop and a picture of the director herself. I closed down my own game of solitaire, and by the time she arrived at our little corner of the squad room all she saw were three devoted NCIS agents hard at work.
I took my time setting aside the case file I had been studying. "Madam Director. How may I help you?"
"I need to speak to you in private." She was about to pass out from exhaustion, I could tell.
"Alright." I rose, patting Ziva and McGee on the heads as I walked by. "Stay."
Ziva threw a pen at my back and McGee just muttered under his breath.
She led me into her office where I could smell a fresh pot of coffee brewing. "Director? With all due respect, it's eight-thirty and you look like death warmed over. Now either you've had the worst morning in the history of bad mornings, or you never left last night."
She glared at me. "That's absolutely none of your business, Agent DiNozzo. Now, if you could possibly keep the sexist remarks to a minimum, I did have a reason for calling you up here."
"That was not sex--"
"Be quiet. Now. Agent Gibbs is out on special assignment this week and therefore..." She looked as if she were being forced to drink a whole bottle of cough syrup. "You will be the senior field agent in charge of the team."
"Was that difficult?" I asked innocently.
She glared at me. "Don't make me regret this, Agent DiNozzo."
I folded my hands in front of me. "I swear on Gibbs' boat."
She winced. "You're dismissed. Just know, I'll be keeping a close eye on you. Any screw ups, and you're out faster than you can say--"
"I have a desperate, insatiable need to throw Gibbs down on a bed and screw his brains out, which makes me look really pathetic and minorly...sorry majorly annoying? Yes, we know. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to kidnap Tony." I blinked as Abby grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the office, slamming the door.
"Hi!" She was bouncing on the high heals of her boots, making her pigtails swing. Heavy coal lined her lips and eyes, and her clothes were all filmy layered black fabric held together with metal chains.
I sighed, and started walking toward the door. "Away. You just dragged me out of the meeting in which our dear friend the director had to inform me that I get to be in charge for a week." I tried to resist the urge to do a little happy dance. I failed.
"Ooo. Lucky boy." She walked past me down the stairs.
Ziva was waiting for us at the bottom. "Tony--"
"You belong to me," I told her, still vibrating with excitement.
Abby froze. "Whoa. I did not realize you two were involved in those sort of games."
Ziva stared at her. "We're not."
"Playing games or having sex?"
I frowned. "Isn't the whole having sex thing a kind of prerequisite to playing kinky games?"
She shook her head, earrings jingling. "Not necessarily. I was with this one guy once and he was big on control and dominance and stuff but we never actually had sex. I found out later he was Catholic and refused to have sex before he got married, which is really weird, 'cause I didn't think God smiled on sex games and stuff but what do I know?"
"Breathe," Ziva told her, rolling her eyes.
"Oxygen!" Abby said way too eagerly. Ziva smirked. I frowned.
"Am I missing something?"
"Yes," Abby said.
"No," Ziva said at the same time. I walked away from them and snuck up behind McGee.
He jumped about half a foot, dropped his coffee and spun around in a complete 360 before the heat of the coffee struck him and he started swearing. "Damn it, DiNozzo!"
I grinned at him. "Gotta stay alert, Probie. The only bad agents are dead agents."
He made valiant attempts to wipe up the spilled coffee with a napkin. I grinned.
"Tony!" Abby wrapped her arms around my neck from behind. "That was mean."
I shifted awkwardly under her unexpected hold. "Yes, but it was funny."
She released me and bounced over to McGee, finding another napkin to help clean him up. Ziva touched my arm. "What did you mean?"
I turned to her. "Gibbs is on some top secret double o seven mission this week, so I'm in charge."
Kate would have flinched and made some remark about how I couldn't hold the team together for an hour, let alone a week. Ziva just grinned with more than a hint of evil glinting in her eyes. I took a step back.
"What are you thinking, Officer David?"
She placed her hands behind her back. "And what would make you think I'm thinking anything, Agent DiNozzo?"
I smirked. "Come on, Ziva, I didn't become a cop because of my pretty face."
"No, I'm sure you relied on... other parts of your anatomy." She fluttered her eyelashes coquettishly.
I took half a step closer to her, looking down on her. "I could be very offended by that, Ziva. But I'd prefer to take it as a compliment."
She stepped forward, bringing her right up in front of me, almost touching. "Well, Tony, I do know all about you're... attributes."
I smirked. "Yeah, I suppose you would."
"I would indeed. As would everyone else watching the video feed."
She tilted her head. "I think so. Though I'm not so sure that the director found the same entertainment value in it that I did."
"Oh c'mon. We both know that the only way the director would find entertainment in a nude man is if it were Gibbs."
She flinched. "You don't think that's already happened?"
"I was trying not to think about it, actually." I made a face at the thoughts her comment had sparked.
"Not very hard. You started it."
"Are we in Kindergarten again, Ziva?" I asked dryly. Abby popped up beside me.
"What are we talking about?"
"Gibbs' sex life," Ziva and I chorused. I stared at her. She stared at me. Abby did a double take of both of us and turned in a brisk 180, walking over to the wall and hitting her head against it.
"Is she trying to kill herself?" Ziva asked. I shrugged.
"More likely trying to kill the brain cells that have the memory of you and I saying "Gibbs' sex life" stored in them. But you never know with Abby."
Ziva spent another minute staring at Abby until the Goth stopped to stare back. "Can I help you?"
Ziva made helpless gestures at the wall, and then at Abby's head. "Doesn't that hurt?"
Apparently deciding that the mystery that was Abby was much too complex for that early in the morning, the Israeli turned back to me. "So, Fearless leader, this means that you actually have to do work, yes?"
I sighed. "Yes, yes it does. Not that I don't already do work."
I walked over to my desk, sitting down. Abby leaned on the back of my chair; Ziva perched on the corner of the desk; McGee stood in front of it.
"Any cases yet?" McGee asked.
I rolled my eyes. "Yes, Probie, the phone rang and I got a case in the whole...ten minutes that I've been here and you just happened not to hear it from all the way over at your desk."
Before McGee could reply, a young man wearing a jacket that identified him as a mail delivery worker ambled over to our little corner.
"I got an envelope for a Dr. Sky-utto...?" he muttered. "Guy downstairs told me I'd find him up here."
Abby walked around the desk, snatching the large brown envelope from the man.
"Maybe it's a finger," McGee said without any sort of provocation.
"The Director's finger," I muttered. "Be at the park at midnight if you want to see your Director alive again."
Abby snickered. "Mmm. Return to sender."
I actually cackled. It was pretty damn evil -- I was proud. Ziva was trying fiercely not to laugh. McGee was looking around like he expected Gibbs' stalker to pop up out of the woodwork. Abby was distracted by her envelope. I swallowed the last of my coffee, tossing the cup into the trash bin. "Whoa." Abby dropped the envelope, eyes wide.
She sprinted toward the stares, and then froze, glancing over her shoulder. "If any of you touch that, I will get you fired."
I frowned, and stared down at the now open envelope. "Is it gonna blow up?" I asked dryly. Ziva winced.
"Why is she going up there?" McGee wondered, staring up at the director's office where Abby had disappeared. We sat in silence, all of us staring at the envelope like it was some alien life form until Abby arrived back in a whirl of silk, lace and chains.
"Okay, she's still alive, whole and there."
"Abby, that's not a finger, is it?" Ziva really, really wanted to poke the envelope. Either that or grab Abby and molest her. That or she'd had too much coffee.
"Uh..." Abby pulled a pair of latex gloves from her pocket, snapping them on and picking up the envelope. "It's not a finger."
McGee inched away from her. Ziva hopped off of my desk and stepped in front of Abby before she could make the getaway she had been attempting. I moved in from the other side, boxing the Goth in against the wall and the desk.
"Abs," I whined, giving her my best puppy dog eyes. "What's in it?"
"It's an ear." I stared. My mouth was hanging open.
"An ear?" Ziva's wasn't, of course.
"Indeed," Abby replied, bouncing on her heals.
"Like, a human ear?" I demanded.
"No, Tony, a lizard ear. Yes, a human ear. Now, seriously? You two? As pretty as you both are, I do have a personal bubble and its feeling very violated right now."
We stepped back in unison and Abby twirled around in a circle. McGee watched on as if this was completely regular and unexciting behavior to him. I cleared my throat. "Maybe you should take that down to the lab and start processing it, Abs? If someone's sending us ears I wouldn't mind knowing whose ears they are."
"Technically we've only got one so far," she replied on queue. "If it were two ears, a full set, then you could call them ears. As it is, we've only got one, so it's one singular ear, making your use of the plural unnecessary."
I sighed. "You're officially not allowed to spend anymore time with Ducky ever again."
She danced away from us, brushing between Ziva and I as she moved. "It's raining!"
I turned to see where she was pointing. I really should have realized that she was looking out the window. Well, actually, she had her face pressed up against the glass, brown envelope dangling at her side, completely forgotten in the new delight of Mother Nature's waterworks.
"Yes, it is. Good job. Now, how about you go process that human ear that you're holding!"
She waved me off. "Go look up porno or whatever it is you do all day. The rain is pretty."
I threw up my hands in frustration. "You two...make her do it!" I snapped at McGee and Ziva, who were smirking off on the sidelines.
"Abby," called McGee. "Gibbs'd be pissed if you didn't work to find out who was chopping off people's ears."
"And there's a window in your lab," Ziva added. Abby grinned at them, turning away from the window and holding up the envelope like a shield. "I'm gonna go process this now, Kay!"
I squeezed my eyes shut. "Great. Fantastic. You do that, Abs." She smiled and patted me on the head as she walked past.
"Just think Tony," Ziva smirked. "Only four and seven eighths more days of this."
"I never said Gibbs was going to be gone a week," I replied peevishly. I was feeling particularly peeved, and it seemed like a good mood. I needed those little smiley things that Abby and McGee use on the internet. One for each emotion.
"I got an email from the director about it."
"Ah. Of course you did. How very nice for you. Did she tell you to keep an eye on me? Take over if anything goes wrong?"
She flipped her hair. "Something like that."
"Excellent! Probie! Coffee run!" I sat back down at my desk. The elevator closed on Abby. McGee peaked over his desk where he had been cowering. "We just got here, Tony."
I stared at him. "Uh... Huh?"
"We just got here, so we obviously needed coffee to start the day, McGee," Ziva smiled sweetly at him. I air high-fived her.
"Did you notice what delivery service that guy was with?" I asked Ziva once McGee had left, grumbling under his breath.
"UPS. I'm sure his picture will show up on the security cameras. I'm wondering why that envelope was addressed to Abby specifically. It could be personal."
I set down my newspaper and spun my chair to face Ziva, studying her curiously. "Since when do you show concern for other people? It's weird. Spill."
"Spill what?" she set down her phone receiver before she had dialed anything. "Tony, it hurts me that you think I have no emotional concern for others."
"Of course it does. Now, tell me. What, exactly has changed. Actually, I would have thought with the amount that Abby and McGee and I flirt with you you'd be about ready to go back to Israel. And yet, here you are, showing something that might even be taken as, God forbid, friendship? It's creepy."
She shifted, resting her chin on her fist. "This may come as a surprise to you, but I'm not unused to ignoring mild sexual advances."
"Not really. You're pretty, female, basically unattainable. Sounds about right."
"And I have no intention of leaving any time soon, so it only makes sense to be on pleasant terms with all of my coworkers."
I smiled thinly. "Easier to gain our trust and later use it to betray, blackmail or convert us later?"
Later, after the second cup of coffee had been consumed and Ziva had retrieved a copy of our security tapes and I had had another ever so fun meeting with Madam director, who, by the way, didn't look any better, we all trooped down to Abby's lab to drop off the tapes and see if she'd gotten anything on the ear. The music was pounding as usual when we entered and it grated on my nerves. I wanted to keep breathing, so I only turned it down, not off. She jerked; head spinning until she locked her gaze on us. "Oh. Hey."
Ziva studied Abby without being any more obvious than a heard of water buffalo. I knew what she was seeing. The Goth was tense, jumpy and nowhere near as cheerful as she had been earlier. McGee was distracted by the image on the plasma screen.
"What ya got for us, Abs?" I asked, studying the screen and trying to make sense of the squiggles.
"The ear was pierced in three places. Nothing in at the time of separation, still nothing there. Judging from the skin tone and the size of the ear you're looking for a white female, between the ages of twenty and thirty, probably with a big pile of blood all over the side of her head."
"Yes, because I'm sure she's just wandering around out there, communing with the flowers and butterflies, offering them a peak at the bloody mess that is her head." I was worried.
She continued talking as if I hadn't said a thing. "The cut looks pretty clean, a knife of some sort, but not serrated."
"Was there anything else in the package?" Ziva asked.
Abby shook her head. "Nope."
Ziva stepped quickly toward her, spinning the chair in which the Goth was sitting, resting her hands on her shoulders. "Don't lie unless you're sure you can pull it off, Abby."
Abby actually looked a little scared. To tell the truth, I hadn't been aware that she was lying, but I was no trained Mossad interrogator, so I let her do her thing.
"It's no big deal. Seriously. No need to go all Peacekeeper on my ass."
McGee choked on his coffee, making valiant efforts not to spray it everywhere. I didn't get it, but it was fun watching the Probie suffer. I revel in it; it makes him a better agent. Ziva didn't look so amused. "Abby..." There was a clear warning in her voice. I decided then and there that there was more going on between them than met the eye. It wasn't like Abby's relationship with Gibbs, layered with subtext. It was more a sparking emotional intensity between the two women, both sure of what they really wanted to say, neither one actually wanting to say it for fear of igniting the flames. I personally didn't want to be around when it finally exploded as it inevitably would. I had enough of my own woman troubles without adding Abby and Ziva's to them.
"There was a note," Abby admitted. She bounced up, forcing Ziva to step rapidly back. Pigtails swinging, she moved over to a different computer. The incomprehensible squiggles disappeared, replaced by a simple blurb of text.
The puzzle is slowly falling apart. The Gods are weeping and the skies open with their tears.
I frowned. "Please tell me you were just joking when you implied that you weren't gonna tell us about this," I snapped. My stomach was starting to ponder rejecting breakfast.
"It didn't seem important."
I physically restrained Ziva before she could make a move to slap Abby. She was not Gibbs; she wouldn't get away with it. McGee looked confused.
"You didn't think it was important? Abs, this is basically a threat against you."
"I'm sure it's nothing. I'm more interested in the ear," she snapped a bit on the last, removing the text from the screen and replacing it with an enlarged view of the ear. I sighed and rested my chin on top of Ziva's head. She didn't move away. Abby was typing furiously, eyes fixed on the screen. McGee tried to get a peak at her screen, but she shooed him away.
"We have a present for you," I told her.
Ziva set down the film beside Abby's monitor. She didn't acknowledge them, just continued to type.
"I've got a sample of the DNA off of the ear, but there's not much I can do until we have something or someone to match it with."
"I should inform the director about this," Ziva said quietly, pulling away from me. "If Abby is in danger, she needs to know so that security measures can be taken."
"Oh no she doesn't," Abby bounced up, catching Ziva's arm. "The last thing I need is a bunch of guards hanging around messing everything up. And the director is a bitch and she doesn't like me."
Ziva tried to shake her off, but the taller woman kept a tight grip on the Israeli's arm. "Abby--"
"No! There's more going on here, okay? I can't afford to get the director involved."
"Can any of us get involved?" I asked gently. She turned to me with wide green eyes.
"I don't want you to get hurt."
I snorted. "How very dramatically noble of you."
She glared at me, pulling in on herself. "Fuck you, Tony."
"I'm gonna go to the delivery service building. Maybe there's an image of our guy on their cameras," I told them, slamming the door on my way out. I was frustrated and angry, and staying in there was only going to exacerbate the situation. Abby is my friend. She's smart, pretty, friendly and way too willing to give herself up for the betterment of others.
I took the stares, heading straight for the garage. There was no reason to go back to the squad room. I didn't feel like going to the trouble of gassing up a van and signing it out. My baby was parked in the underground parking now that summer was here and the bird population had deemed everything out in the open theirs to crap on. I had one of Abby's CDs in the player. Creepy death rock. I turned it up, sticking my NCIS card in the window to identify my car. It was still raining outside, big fat drops plopping down on the pavement and vehicles with a continuous splashing motion. I rolled down the window a tiny bit, the scent of rain was something that Ducky had introduced me to and subsequently gotten me hooked on.
The song changed as I turned the corner and I decided that Abby must have burned a mix CD. The lyrics to the song could not have been more cheesily fitting if they tried -- or at least they would be if I were a fourteen year old drama queen obsessed with my weight and how long I could cut myself before someone would notice.
I'm only happy when it rains
Yeah, it was going to be a strange week.