A/N: Apologies for some very cheesy lines, angst and huge amounts of author anxiety that I was sending them OOC. I don't think I have, but if anyone else does then let me know.
"Ugh, what is it, goat?" Ziva asked, sniffing the unidentified object wrapped in grease proof paper that McGee had just handed her. It had been a long day, Gibbs had disappeared and still no-one had any thought of leaving.
Tony wagged a finger at her, "Fast Food Ziva, is the thing that made America great!" The Israeli snorted, "it's true..." he continued, "while the rest of the world was taking two hour lunch and dinner breaks, we were taking over. Isn't that right Probie?"
McGee shrugged, "if you say so Tony".
"I do say so" DiNozzo continued, "it's a different society Ziva and it's the fastest not the strongest that survive".
Ziva tilted her head and watched through her lashes as Abby walked across the room, sat in Gibbs' chair, rested her elbows on his desk and her chin on her hands; before turning her attention back to DiNozzo. "That explains a lot about you Tony..." she said, "and it is true that this can... temporarily, sate the appetite. But you seem to have forgotten that most things are best when you take the time to savor them. Take that two hour break and add the anticipation you experience as you prepare the ingredients; the feast for your eyes, your nose assailed by the different aromas that merge and change as you add heat. Taking tiny tastes to ensure perfection and whet the appetite for what is to come. Making absolutely sure that every... tiny... little... thing, is in perfect readiness. Then and only then do you eat, letting the flavors and textures linger and develop on your palate, remembering that part of the pleasure comes from the fact that you do not hurry".
DiNozzo cleared his throat and shifted in his seat, "Well you've got the time it takes Abby to explain why she's here" Gibbs said and they turned to see him standing with the Director. Abby noticed the slight flush in the woman's face; Jenny's eyes, looking everywhere except at Ziva, connected with hers for an instant and then moved on.
"I think I will pass" Ziva said, dropping the offending object in the trash, then looking apologetically at McGee.
"Well since I haven't had a lunch or dinner break today, unless you count the 2 minutes I took at the vending machine, I would like to request a transfer to someplace in the rest of the world", Abby said looking at Gibbs, who scowled. "... but in the absence of that" she added hastily, "based on the burn patterns on both the body and the building, as well as the debris picked up in its immediate location; I came to tell you that you're looking at a good old-fashioned Molotov cocktail as both accelerant and source of ignition. Beer bottle and gasoline to be precise".
Gibbs nodded, "what about the bullet?"
"I can multi-task Gibbs, my equipment can not. I'm running one last test... give me an hour" she replied getting up, drawn to the Caf-Pow! she could see in his hand.
"I'll be down in 20 minutes" Gibbs replied, holding it out of reach.
She resisted for mere seconds, "ok, ok, but don't blame me if it's not finished, unlike Tony, my babies can't go any faster".
"Thanks Abs" Gibbs said handing her the soda before she returned to the lab. He watched Ziva's eyes follow the goth out before turning towards DiNozzo, "you got the Fire Chief's report yet?"
"It's the weekend boss, best I could get was sometime early next week".
"I want it Monday morning, DiNozzo. McGee, what were Witter's finances like?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary, if he's hiding anything I haven't found it yet" Tim replied, not not removing his eyes from the screen.
"What about his laptop from the base?"
"Uh, he deleted a lot of files before he left it with the Master Chief but I'm working on it" he said looking up as Gibbs nodded.
"There is nothing on the bolo" Ziva said, anticipating the question as he turned towards her.
"What about the brother?"
Ziva shook her head, "No-one is at the high school today and without the child services reports we don't even know if his brother is called Witter".
"They're only staffed for emergencies on the weekend, they're going to fax them Monday morning".
"There's nothing you can do Jethro" Jenny said quietly, "The SecNav may want a result but even he has to work with the premise that most people don't work weekends".
"So why are we?" he replied irritatedly, DiNozzo hadn't been the only one with plans this weekend.
"You don't think it's a little too much?" Ducky asked as Abby smiled back at him through the com.
"Ducky, you know I love your bow-ties, that one makes you look very debonair..." she heard the door swish open, "Hang on, I think we have company".
"That Ducky?" Gibbs asked as the entire team trooped in. Abby nodded and Jethro came over so that he could see the doctor, "you agree with Abs about the cause of the fire Duck?" he asked.
"Definitely, it hit the ground just to the left of the neck, which would explain why the head was the most badly burned" Ducky continued over the com, "and it shattered on impact, the shards of glass I found buried in the neck tissue were consistent with the tests Abby ran on the other beer bottles at the scene, but with traces of gasoline".
"Thanks Duck" Jethro said before moving away.
Ducky nodded and then refocused on Abby, "are you sure I should go with the bright paisley?"
"Absolutely" Abby replied, "it says... quietly assured yet fun-loving".
"Well, I'll take your word for it. Now I had better be getting along or I'm going to be late".
"Night Ducky, have fun" Abby said, before turning off the com. "Date" she explained seeing Tony's raised eyebrow, "now where were we?"
Gibbs was standing in front of the plasma, "The bullet Abs?"
"What no small talk?" she asked. He turned and was not looking happy, "I guess not. Ok, 9 mm,115 grain Full Metal Jacket, it's really dinged up though Gibbs" she said putting up the image.
"No chance of a trajectory?" he asked turning towards her.
"Entry wound in his eye socket, no exit wound, contrary to popular belief I cannot work miracles. What I can tell you is that he wasn't shot where he was found. It was seriously low velocity and the distance inside the building is too short", she stated. Then conceded, "unless of course, you have a suspect who can shoot accurately enough through walls to hit him, that might account for the mess it was in".
"That's good work Abby. Tony..." Gibbs said walking back towards the door, "you're heading back to Rocky Mount on Monday, take McGee".
"For wha... you want to know where he was killed before he was barbecued. You're on poison ivy patrol Probie", the two men started to follow their boss.
"But what about the child service reports..." Tim began as Abby, hearing a beep, looked at her monitor and maximized a screen that had been lurking on the taskbar.
"Ziva will look out for them" Gibbs replied.
"Why am I staying..."
"You don't think there's going to be poison..."
Both Ziva's question to Gibbs and McGee's whispered conversation with Tony were cut short by the lab tech, who wondered yet again if Gibbs had some sort of sixth sense when it came to her machines giving results. "Well if you don't you want to hear the rest of my news I'll get back to the fifty gagillion other tests I still have to run". The three men stopped and turned, Abby, hearing the silence, grinned, turned towards them and continued, "So, I ran the slug through SEM/EDS. I did not find traces of the wall... but I did find minute traces of Fe2O3".
"It was rusty?" McGee queried.
Abby glared at him, "I didn't say that McGee, I said there were minute traces of rust. I'll have to run more tests, but so far everything points to cheap steel cased ammo".
Gibbs walked back and kissed Abby's head, "Go home, get some sleep, I don't want to see you here before Monday".
"I want that in writing Gibbs" she yelled after him before turning back to her computer, unsurprised when there was no reply. "There a reason you're not doing the 'move as a pack' thing with the rest of them Officer David?" Abby asked, knowing that Ziva was still there after she heard the elevator doors close. She was not however prepared, for how close the woman was standing when she turned and the slight screech she emitted caused the Israeli to wince. "Don't do that" she said as Ziva shook her head slightly to try and stop the ringing in her ears. She stopped when she discovered Abby's arms wrapped around her neck, "Is there something I can do for you?" the goth said vampishly.
"Yes..." Ziva replied, biting back her first response, "go home".
"Right, coz these test will run themselves" Abby replied letting her companion go and waving her arm in the general direction of the table before reaching for her caf-pow!, only to find it empty, "and now I have a caffeine emergency".
"Abby, Gibbs told you to go home"
"He did, but unfortunately he is not technically my boss, even if he likes to think he is and the Director wasn't too happy about me going AWOL the other day".
"But if you told her why..."
"That is never going to happen and if you..."
"I will not say anything, but you have not been home since..."
"Ziva look, I'll just start this next batch of tests running and then I'll go home, ok?" Abby conceded.
"Ok" Ziva replied satisfied, "what can I do to help?"
"You're really going to stay aren't you?" Abby said surprised.
Her companion nodded, "and I'm really going to see you off the premises and into your car", then wondering if Abby had meant her comment about the vending machine, added, "...that is if you think it is too late to get something to eat".
"Wow, dinner dates already?" Abby joked.
"I just thought..."
"Which reminds me" Abby butted in, "flirting with the Director in front of Gibbs, do you have a death wish today?"
Ziva frowned, "I was not flirting with the Director" she said and feeling a small lie was necessary, continued "until Gibbs spoke, I did not know they were there".
"You didn't? But that whole food/sex metaphor..."
"Was not for Jen".
"Oh?" Abby looked puzzled for a moment, then her forehead cleared and she said, "Oh, to wind up Tony".
Ziva wavered, unsure whether Abby was being deliberately obtuse or whether she was still so wrapped up in her feelings for Caitlin that she hadn't noticed what she was trying to say. Not feeling confident enough of her ground, the Israeli backed down, "yes" she said finally, "I think that it worked".
Nodding Abby said, "I think so too" before turning away confused. The way Ziva had been looking at her at that moment had touched something inside her and for the first time in a long time, the flickering of desire had stirred. Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, Abby sighed and lifted her arms above her head to stretch, a movement she instantly regretted, having spent many hours hunched up over various pieces of equipment. She dropped them again, then put a hand back up to her right shoulder and tried to rub out the knots. It was almost instantly replaced with strong fingers that appeared to be able to work magic. "Ugh... wow you're as good at that as..." Abby moved quickly away and wrapped her arms around herself "I should get these tests started" she said in a small voice.
"Yes" Ziva agreed quietly from behind her.
Staying stock still, Abby took a deep breath and continued, "I'll go home Ziva, you don't have to stay".
Ziva bowed her head and fought her instinct to disagree, "I will see you on Monday Abby" she said and saw Abby nod as she left.
So lost was she in thought that she bypassed the elevator and walked slowly up the stairs, glad she hadn't betrayed her feelings and left herself exposed. She barely noticed that only Gibbs was still at his desk. He looked up as she passed, "the others have gone, there's nothing we can do until Monday. Go home Ziva, get some sleep". She nodded, walked to her desk and mechanically lifted the files from the work surface and locked them in one of the drawers. Pausing in the act of putting on her coat, to wonder if she should have risked telling Abby the truth, she heard a voice from behind her, "You ok?"
She turned towards her boss, the look of inquiry on his face told her he'd pieced together far more than she would have liked. "Yes...", she finished putting on her coat and picked up her bag, "night Gibbs" she continued before heading to the elevator, aware of his gaze following her.
She was surprised to find Abby hovering in the otherwise deserted lobby when the doors opened and she stepped out. "Hey" the goth said quietly.
"Hey" Ziva replied uncertainly, "you have started the tests already?"
"No... well, yes, some of them anyway... I've got to go back".
"Oh", the silence seemed to stretch endlessly in front of her, in the end she said, "well, goodnight Abby" and began to turn towards the exit.
"Ziva, what you said..." the Israeli turned back but it was a long moment before the goth continued and it was clear she was struggling with the words, "it wasn't aimed at Tony, was it?" Abby finished, regarding her with a look Ziva couldn't identify.
Quashing her instinct to protect herself Ziva smiled, though not with amusement, "no Abby, it wasn't".
Since no other reply was forthcoming Abby continued, "It was for my benefit?" the Israeli nodded slowly. "Ziva, I don't... I'm not... Kate..." the last was said so brokenly that Ziva moved forward quickly and placed her fingertips over Abby's mouth.
"I do not think Caitlin would want you to be alone" she said quietly, removing her hand before continuing, "and I meant what I said about taking the time"... she stepped back, "after all, you said you would provide me with new firsts..." Abby looked puzzled and Ziva allowed a feral look to settle on her face as her eyes raked over the goth's body, looking up again she saw that it had had the desired effect, "before I have just taken what I want" she said huskily.
Abby wasn't sure whether it was the words themselves or the tone in which they were spoken, either way, the electricity that surged through her body made her glad she was wearing rubber soled boots. The knowledge that at that moment she wouldn't have resisted, only confused her even more.
Ziva, getting no response and thinking she had made a huge mistake, stepped backwards again looking abashed, "I am sorry, I..." the elevator, which had just been background noise before, dinged behind her and the next moment the Director stepped out followed by Gibbs, who, judging by his face, had been about to say something.
"I need to get back to the lab" Abby said quickly, bolting behind them and into the elevator. Gibbs moved to follow her then thought better of it and turned back towards Ziva.
Startled by the speed with which Abby had left and aware of the frown on Jenny's face, Ziva said "I should be going too" and headed for the doors with more dignity, but no less speed, than the goth, "goodnight Director, Gibbs".
Alone again, Jenny turned towards her companion and raising an eyebrow asked, "Is there something going on that I should know about?"
"You tell me" Gibbs replied making a mental note to visit the guard station and pull the lobby camera recording, "I'm not the one who blushed over a cooking lesson earlier".