"Good news Abbs. I come bearing gifts." Tony said. He set a vanilla kiwi slushie on the lab worktable. Caf Pows were out now that she was pregnant. "Thought you could use a refill."
Abby looked up from her comparison microscope. "Thanks."
Her eyeliner coursed in heavy black tracks down her face.
Tony gave her a gentle hug. "What did McGee do this time?" Level headed Abby had been the hormone queen as of late and it was a good bet that whatever the emotion, McGee was the one she'd hold responsible.
"He wants to trade in my hearse for a family car."
"Oh." He grimaced. "Don't you think a baby in a hearse is a little macabre Abby?"
She glared at him with such intensity he thought he might catch fire. "Not you too."
"Like I was saying, there's nothing wrong with the hearse." He said, mentally kicking himself for temporarily forgetting Gibbs' rule number 101. Pregnant women are always right.
"My point exactly." Abby stood and leaned backwards, her hands on her lower back. "Come on. I have to go put my feet up or I'm going to be walking on water balloons soon."
He trailed after her into the office section of her lab.
She sat down and propped her feet up at her desk. "Stick a fork in me I'm done. Seriously, if I had one of those turkey pop up timer thingies, it would so be sticking out right now. Come to think of it, don't you think that would be cool? You get a little timer when you're pregnant and when it pops out Ding! Ding! Ding! The baby's done."
Tony nodded in what he hoped was a sympathetic manner.
Abby spoke between slurps. "I'm sick of being pregnant. I've tried everything-we've driven up and down the bumpy road, eaten spicy food, had sex until-"
"Whoa." He put his fingers to his ears. "Please Abby. I'm begging you to stop."
"That's what McGee said." She fiddled with her black onyx engagement ring. Some weeks ago her fingers had become too swollen to wear it and she'd hung it on a chain around her neck. "I feel like I'm hosting an alien. Like any minute a bug-eyed creature is going to burst out of my belly button."
"Two more weeks. Can't be that bad, can it? Oh." Tony said as he caught her glare. "Okay it's that bad."
Abby lifted her skull and cross bones t-shirt and exposed her rounded belly. "What do you think Bucky? You ready to come out?"
"Buckminsterfuller? A Bucky Ball, Carbon 60?" She said.
"You might want to rethink that before the kid goes to school Abby."
"It's only temporary." She sucked forcibly at her slushy. "You and Ziva still on the outs?"
"She threw a waffle maker at my head."
Abby stifled her laugh at his wounded look. "Sorry. It's just that every single pregnant woman has wanted to do that at some point to her partner and she actually went ahead and did it."
Pregnant woman? "Something you're not telling me Abbs?" He leaned forward in his seat. Had it not been for a well-placed bullet by her sister in law-Ziva too would be sporting a definite bump courtesy of him.
Abby gulped more slushie. Wide-eyed, she shook her head no.
"Good." He knew Ziva had replaced him with a Baltimore cop named Ryan Hale: a complete and total ass in his estimation. The thought of her carrying around his or any man's progeny pissed him off. Because if she was pregnant and it was mine, she'd tell me, she promised.
Ziva. To his surprise when his anger with her had faded he found he truly missed her. Thoughts of her fogged his mind. Ziva pissed off. Ziva trading verbal jabs with him. Ziva smiling at him when she thought no one was looking. Ziva making dinner. Ziva nude astride him. Stop. Don't even think about sex. It's been too long. He tried to distract himself with Abby's Pregnancy Sucks! soliloquy. It wasn't working. Ziva soaping herself up in the shower was currently playing in his mental home movie.
The phone on the desk buzzed. Abby hit speaker. "You're on the air. Watch your language, children are present."
"Tony. MTAC. Now." Gibbs' voice boomed.
"Children?" Tony asked. "Got twins on board Abbs?"
"Nah. Twins is a nightmare to any pregnant woman. I was talking about you…"
Ziva was the last one into MTAC. She slipped through the heavy soundproofed doors and hurried to take her place on the floor. The air in the room felt stiff and wooden. Blood roared in her ears. Little spots danced with reckless abandon in her field of vision. She felt a wave of nausea and reached out to steady herself on Tony. He gave her a curious look and his gaze softened.
I'm bread. No wait. Toast. She forced herself to breathe. "Fine."
He steered her to one of the seats and she sank quickly into it. "Liar." He whispered, his breath hot on her cheek.
She opened her mouth to respond but thought the better of it as the rest of the team sat beside them.
Jenny nodded to the switchboard operator and the plasma screen clicked to life. "Pensacola naval air station. Two unsolved murders in the past forty-eight hours. Both ruled accidental by the local ME."
A photo of a nude middle-aged woman with ropey muscles flashed on the screen. She floated peacefully in her tub, save her wide-eyed look of total shock. She had not been expecting to die.
"Delphine Swift, Lead Field Agent for NCIS. Her husband's an airplane mechanic for the Blue Angels. He worked an overnight and found her like this yesterday morning. The local NCIS ME has tentatively ruled it a slip and fall resulting in an accidental drowning."
"She doesn't look like the "help I've fallen and I can't get up,' type." Tony remarked.
A smile tugged at the corner of Jenny's lips. She nodded again and the picture changed. "Shawn Marner. Unarmed combat instructor. Dropped dead of a heart attack on the sparring mats."
"What makes us think they're not freak accidents?" McGee asked.
In response the pictures turned to live feed. A woman with honey brown hair and a sprinkle of freckles across her nose flashed onto the screen.
"Special Agent Camie Calloway." Jenny said. "We worked together briefly in Europe. She was Swift's senior field agent, now she's in the lead."
"Good to see you again Jen-er-Director." Calloway turned her green eyes on Gibbs. "You must be Special Agent Gibbs. The director says you and your team are the best and I'd appreciate any help I can get with this. Our ME has proved unreliable at best and I have to say, I'm not sure who to trust. Swift's husband says that someone searched their house, but nothing's out of place. The general consensus is that he's just too distraught to believe it could have been an accident. But…"
"She was murdered." Gibbs said.
"She was. I just can't prove it." She replied.
"And Marner?" Tony asked.
"I got a look at the body. His buddy Lt. Liptak claims to have done CPR but there were no signs of the trauma usually associated with it. But he did have a rather impressive bruise over his stomach."
"Maybe the guy wasn't up on his CPR skills." Tony stated.
Camie smiled at him and he felt Ziva tense by his side. "I doubt it. Liptak's credited with doing CPR on a little old lady who dropped dead of a heart attack in the freezer section of the local supermarket a couple of weeks ago. Brought her back to life. Ready for the kicker? Liptak and Marner supposedly have been close friends since high school."
"Makes sense." Tony stated. "Most people are murdered by someone they know."
"I know that." Agent Calloway replied. "That would by why he's the prime suspect."
"We'll be happy to help, Special Agent Calloway." Jen said. "We'll have the team in place tonight." She nodded and the plasma went blank.
Gibbs turned to the team. "One of our own was murdered. We're going to find out who did it."
"We going to Florida boss?" McGee asked. "Abby's due any day now."
"You and Abby stay here." He said. "We need to you to dig up all information on Marner and Liptak since they drew their first breath. I'm going to down to officially assist Special Agent Calloway's investigation." His eyes narrowed at Tony and Ziva as if what he was about to say tasted sour. "You two are going undercover to catch our killer."
Tony grinned. "Married assassins again?"
"More like an unarmed combat instructor." Jenny said.
Ziva smiled eagerly. "Should be fun."
"And a housewife." Gibbs continued.
Ziva's face fell. "Do I have to be happily married?"
A rare smile lit Gibbs' face. "Is there such a thing?"X So let me know what you think. I do love to hear from you. Thank You to all who read and Thank You Thank You to all who review. Cheers, Jeanne