Wow. You guys rock! Many, many thanks to all my reviewers; and if you haven't left me a note yet, this is your last chance.

I'm particularly impressed that I managed to distract an Irish rugby fan from the match. (If you don't watch rugby, it's pretty much thirty very large and muscly men in tiny shorts mud wrestling. I'm a big fan.)

Chapter 18: DNA Does Not Lie

/\/\/\

When Abby arrived for work the next morning, she found Gibbs pacing uncharacteristically in her lab.

"Hey, Gibbs," she said, surprised. "There something I can do for you?"

"I need a favour, Abbs," he replied, pushing a Caff Pow into one hand and a couple of small evidence bags into the other.

"Long as you keep these babies coming, your wish is my command, Bossman," she said, taking a blissful first slurp of the day.

"I need a DNA analysis on these ASAP."

"Sure thing, Gibbserino. What's the case?"

"There isn't one; unless you find something."

"So, no pressure, then. Am I looking for anything specific?"

"Everything; I want a full workup. Ethnic group, hair and eye colour, blood type, whatever you can give me. And I want to know if the samples match before you run them through CODIS."

"Are you ever going to tell me why I'm doing this, Gibbs? Because, you know, secrets aren't nice."

"Not until you're done with the test, Abby. I'm sorry, but I don't want you to jump to any conclusions."

"Gibbs! I am a scientist! Evidence rules my world."

"And here I thought I was in charge around here. How long will it take?"

"For your average forensics tech? Forty eight hours."

"And for you, Abbs, with double Caff Pow?" Gibbs asked, producing a second soda from behind her computer.

"Thirty? Maybe twenty four if I get lucky."

"Then I really hope we get lucky," he finished, pecking her on the cheek as he strode out. "Oh, and Abbs? Don't tell anyone what you're doing, please?"

"I don't know what I'm doing, Gibbs!"

/\/\/\

"Said you had something for me, Abbs?" Said Gibbs, striding into the lab.

"Yes; DNA results on those samples you gave me."

"Did they match?"

"Nope; sorry, Gibbs."

He froze. "The samples… were different?"

"Both were from male donors with mixed Mediterranean and European descent, both had brown hair and blue eyes, but they were not related and definitely were not the same person. I've started them running through CODIS, but it could be a while before I get a hit."

Gibbs barely heard her. A wide smile broke over his features as he allowed himself to believe his gut had been right all along.

"Gibbs? Is this good news?"

"The best there is, Abby," he managed.

Abby looked confused; and then a machine began to beep behind her. She scooted her chair over to the screen… and then froze. When she turned back around, her face had shock, anger and betrayal written all over it.

"Why didn't you tell me one of the samples was from Tony, Gibbs?" She demanded. "Was this some kind of blind test? Is that it? Do you not trust me any more?"

"I still trust you, Abbs. I should've trusted DiNozzo as much. You can tell him I said that."

"You're not making any sense! Tony is dead, Gibbs; and I miss him too but you really have to stop fixating about the whole thing…"

"Abby, which sample matched Tony?"

"B; why does that matter?"

"Sample B was a swab of the blood collected during the autopsy. I got it from the evidence storage lockup myself this morning."

"So I've proved Tony dead twice? What good is that? Two wrongs don't make a right, Gibbs."

"Sample A was a swab of Tony's toothbrush, Abbs. If the samples don't match, it's because someone's altered the record of his DNA profile."

"Or, someone else used his toothbrush!"

"You ever used someone else's toothbrush, Abby?"

"Well, no; and I personally wouldn't but not everyone has my standard of personal hygiene. And why would anyone want us to think Tony's dead anyway?"

"Who would be able to change the DNA profiles?" Gibbs countered.

"It'd have to be one of the agencies, or a really good hacker; and I mean really good."

"There any way you could find out?"

"I could try; but McGee might have more luck. You… really think Tony's alive, Gibbs?"

"Never believed he was dead, Abbs." Gibbs kissed her on the cheek and then strode out, feeling lighter than he had since the phone call.

He hesitated by the door, and then turned back to drop his half full coffee cup into the trash; he'd drunk enough in the last two months to last him a lifetime.

Besides, having Tony back was the ultimate caffeine substitute.

/\/\/\

To Be Continued…

Mwahahahaha! Just when I had you all convinced he was dead! As if I could kill Tony!

(Sorry. ECWS is a cruel disease; I've been waiting to say that for three months. You can tell, can't you?)