Pairings: Tiva, Gabby
Disclaimer: NCIS belongs to CBS and DPB; no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: This is a collaboration with my daughter Erin, who is a Tiva fan. She is also (in my unbiased opinion, lol) a great writer. This story is set several months after my fic "I'm Not Sorry" and the Gabby parts continue that storyline.
It was the same as every morning when Lisa opened her eyes. It felt as if a hundred people suddenly grabbed her and pulled her in a hundred different directions until she thought she might scream. Of course no observer would possibly have been able to tell. Lisa was stoic to the last.
It was dark outside and still cold as she headed out for a run. It had taken some time to get used to the change in climate, but she had been there almost 3 years. 'Getting used to' was the wrong phrase, however; Lisa didn't get used to anything; she adjusted. She didn't know it consciously, but it was part of her stubborn refusal to be happy, flaunting her control over this one part of her life that no one else could touch. Typical woman, really.
"Yo, McGeek!" McGee almost fell off his chair in surprise when Tony came in and interrupted what could be the beginning of a chapter in his head. He walked over with a confident stride, serious expression, even a Starbucks cup that McGee doubted contained actual coffee. With the boss gone, even for a few days, Tony wore the Gibbs persona like a suit of Kevlar. "We gotta go. Dead Marine, heavy political situation that we're going to leave to the director while we find the bad guy."
"And you ride in like a knight in pompous idiocy," Ziva said, not taking her eyes off her computer. Tony smiled but his eyes flashed.
"It's 'shining armor', Ziv-ah" he replied, adding the extra inflection to the 'ah' at the end of her name.
"Not all my mistakes are made from ignorance, Tony," she said. "Our victim's name is Martín Guererra, emigrated from Venezuela, was nationalized right before he joined the Marines two years ago. He was found at Boyd Park in Hampton, Virginia." She looked at McGee, eyebrows raised. "Is there something wrong, McGee?" McGee realized with some embarrassment that he had been staring at Ziva the whole time he had been daydreaming about his novel.
"No, sorry," he stammered. "Just—spaced out." Ziva looked at him questioningly.
"When people's brains shut down and they can't think so they just stare at whatever their eyes fall on, and yes, Ziva, I do in fact live in a permanent state of 'spaced out'. To save you the trouble of insulting me." He took a sip of pretend coffee and Ziva grabbed the keys.
"I'm driving," she snapped. "and shall I add 'may God have mercy on our souls', to spare you the trouble, Tony?" She grabbed her gear and walked off, looking injured. Tony looked at McGee, who was still getting things together.
"Do me a favor, Probie and finish your daydream before you head down. We'll be waiting for you," he said.
As soon as he and Ziva were in the elevator, he reached for the hold button. Ziva was glaring at him from the opposite wall.
"If you so much as move to slap me on the head, I'm making you an experimental torture case," she said.
"I'm not Gibbs," Tony said, in a low controlled voice, still staring at the door. "I never will be. No one can be Gibbs but Gibbs and I am under a lot of stress right now, what with people expecting me to be him. I could really use your support right now, you know, as a friend."
"Part of being a leader is forgetting what everyone else thinks of you, Tony."
"Listen," Tony said, moving closer to her. "I know you're probably angry at me because of our relationship, but—"
"We don't have a relationship, Tony. It's just convenient sex. And yes, actually, I wanted to talk to you about that. I don't think it should happen again."
"Why? I was enjoying it; I thought you were."
"I was," Ziva admitted. "But given that we work together—"
"Oh, don't even start with that, Ziva. That's not really why you want it to end. It's getting complicated for you; I can see it. You can't deal with that. What, were you born without an emotional center or something?"
"Shut up, Tony. And don't come to my apartment again." She turned the elevator back on and didn't look at Tony the rest of the way down.
Although Lisa loved the thrill of a new case and enjoyed being close to Tommy, nothing could quite ease the pain that Lisa felt in her heart; so much loss in her life, the consequences of living in such a war-torn part of the world. For her pain was that she could not love, for fear of losing it again. And so any feelings that she might have were quickly disposed of, uprooted prematurely like a sapling thrown in a woodchipper.
McGee looked back down at his gear and shook his head. "Terrible metaphor," he said to himself, and headed downstairs.
"Gibbs!" Agent Gibbs was in his kitchen, discreetly pouring a cup of coffee for himself since he had believed Abby to be still sleeping. But her cry sounded upset, almost like it came through tears. He quickly put down his coffee and ran to his bedroom. Abby was sitting in her coffin, noisily sobbing with her knees pulled up to her chest, her arms around Bert the hippo.
"Abby, honey, what's wrong?" he asked softly. "Are you ok? Something wrong with the baby?"
"The baby—," Abby wailed. "The baby—he's moving, Gibbs. He's really moving. I can feel it. It's amazing." All this through a torrent of the worst Abby-tears he had seen yet.
Gibbs had several immediate reactions to this. First of all, he had told Abby a hundred times to call him Jethro—'Gibbs' was too formal for the woman who was carrying his child. But Abby's habits were hard to break—hence Bert and the coffin—and Gibbs wanted to take stress off her, not add to it. Also, Abby's emotions were like wading in quicksand; nothing was solid for more than a few seconds. Abby alternately loved him and hated him and her expressions of both were more than extreme. Gibbs had gone through six coffeemakers, since when Abby hated him, she tended to assault them with a baseball bat.
On the other hand, the depth of loving emotion that she sometimes felt for him led her to burst into the interrogation room and passionately kiss him until whoever was watching through the glass could drag her out. (She was now closely watched anytime there was a sensitive situation going on) To distract her, Gibbs no longer brought her CafPows, but bananas. She had been craving bananas since week 13. Needless to say, this provoked a number of comments from Tony about the primate qualities that the child seemed likely to have. Though these and other changes were trying and at times bewildering, Gibbs could honestly say that he was enjoying having a family again. Still, he often had to suppress an apprehension bordering on terror about his child's safety.
"Abby, are you in pain? Does it hurt when he moves? Are you bleeding?"
"No-o-o," Abby managed to say. "It's just that—he's moving and it's—it's so beautiful that I can't stop crying!" She hugged Bert tightly for a fresh burst of sobs and to Gibbs the fart sound that he made sounded somewhat puzzled.
"You're sure that you're ok, Abs?"
"Yes, Jethro, I feel fine."
"Besides the inconsolable tears, you mean?" Abby sniffled and blew her nose.
"This pregnancy is turning me into a nutcase," she said. "I've never been so happy in my life and all I can do is sit here and cry." Gibbs leaned close to her and wrapped his arms around her. Abby clung to him and Bert farted in his ear. Gibbs placed a hand on her slightly protruding belly.
"It's going to be alright, Abs," he said. "I know it's hard now, but believe me, this baby is going to be worth all that and more."
"Oh, Jethro," Abby said, and for a second Gibbs thought she was going to cry again. But she was silent for a few more minutes while Gibbs held her.
"You know I love you."
"I know, Abby."
"Will you make me banana pancakes?"
On the wooded borders of Boyd Park, thankfully away from where the children played, the body had been found. A father familiar with the scent of decomposing flesh had gone over to investigate and had hurried all the families away before calling the police, who called NCIS when it was discovered that the victim was a Marine.
"Time of death between 48 and 72 hours ago," Ducky told Tony, removing the liver probe without ceremony from the belly of a Hispanic man who stared up at them with half-lidded black eyes. "Mr. Palmer, come over here and tell me what you can deduce from this." Palmer stopped struggling with the body bag and gurney and ran over to look at the body. "Strangulation," he said immediately. From ear to ear there was a deep ligature mark lined with dried blood. "His throat may have been cut, but there isn't enough blood to point to exsanguination."
"Very good, Mr. Palmer," Ducky said. "You might just make a medical examiner yet. Anything else?" Sweating a little, Palmer stared hard at the grisly scene.
"He wasn't moved," he said. "The pattern of blood in the grass corresponds with how it flows from his neck."
"Excellent," Ducky said. To Tony he added, "I agree that the preliminary cause of death was strangulation. Of course I'll find out more later, but barring any unusual events—which as we both know are so common in this business that they might be called 'usual event's—I think it's unlikely that the cause of death will change."
"Thanks, Ducky," Tony replied. "Hey, Ziva! McGee! Strangled! Look for a possible weapon!"
"Like that was not obvious to all of us," Ziva muttered, and stalked off into the woods.
McGee continued to take pictures of the scene. He wasn't finding much to go on; just some footprints and tracks in the grass and the occasional bit of colored plastic from a child's toy. He tried to focus, but his thoughts kept straying, sometimes to his novel and the development of Lisa's character in addition to the tension of her relationship with Tommy, and sometimes to Abby. That she was pregnant was a shock beyond anything he had ever thought to expect with Abby, and that Gibbs was the father was leaving him wondering if he hadn't wandered into a parallel universe.
Added to that, Abby looked even more beautiful to him now. Probably just because I can't have her, he thought to himself. He had actually been trying to stay away from her as much as possible, as had everyone if they knew what was good for them, and let Gibbs do most of the communicating. Still, a part of him wondered; if he wasn't 'right' for her, as she had put it, how in the world did Gibbs of all people land the job? His conflicts found a release, as they always did, in his writing and currently Agent 'L.' was lost out at sea after the bombing of an aircraft carrier. There were days when he wasn't sure if he wanted him to come back.
He put his foot down on the sidewalk and heard a crunching sound. Lifting it up again, he saw something shimmer in the afternoon light. He bent closer. On the pavement, crushed by his shoe, were bits of red plastic or possibly glass, carved into a rounded shape, with a bit of a gold chain still attached. It was a bead.
A thought occurred to him. He knelt close to the grass beside the concrete, searching for more of these. Sure enough, he saw another.
"Tony! Ziva!" he called. Tony was talking to witnesses, but Ziva came over while he snapped pictures of both the beads.
"Find something, McGee?" she asked.
"See that?" McGee asked, gesturing to the bead. "I found another on the sidewalk. See if you can find anymore." Ziva put on a glove, picked up the intact bead and placed it in an evidence bag. After searching for a few minutes, they found four more, along with more bits of the chain.
"Think this was the murder weapon?" McGee asked.
"Possible," Ziva said. "I doubt we'll be able to get fingerprints off of this. However…" she held the bead she had just found up to the light. Small flecks of brownish-red were on its surface. "Abby will be able to tell us if this is the victim's blood or not." Something in McGee's stomach jumped at the mention of Abby's name. "Keep looking for more."
Tony's phone rang while he was interviewing the man who found the body. After excusing himself, he walked to a quieter area to have the conversation.
"Is Gibbs there?" was the first thing out of the caller's mouth. Understandably, given the current situation with Gibbs and Abby, the director was just slightly more on edge.
"No; my understanding was that he was on vacation for a few days. I guess we should just be counting ourselves lucky that he's still in the country."
"Agent DiNozzo," Shepard said curtly. "I have been fielding calls from the Venezuelan embassy all morning. In case you weren't aware, your victim was the son of one of their outstanding citizens, one with major connections here in the States."
"I am aware, Director, and I am also aware that Guererra and his sister came here four years ago after being disowned by their family and more or less ordered out of the country for religious differences; now he wants to reconcile? That's a little odd, don't you think? Is he trying to contact the sister?"
"He's already tried and she refuses to see him, which is where we come in."
"We're playing referee in a family squabble?"
"No, Tony; Mr. Guererra already has a good idea who it was that murdered his son; now he wants us to protect his daughter, since she won't let him."
"Guererra's been receiving threats for years. He's quite upset that they managed to find his children before he did. I've already sent agents to their house, but I want to assign Ziva there for the remainder of the case."
"If you take one of my team, Director, you're extending that period of time quite a bit, especially with Gibbs gone."
"Yes, but this is complicated, DiNozzo. Guererra doesn't want any male agents near his daughter and since Ziva speaks Spanish, I thought she'd be the best choice."
"Fair enough. If Guererra's right about this, it shouldn't take too much time anyway. Is the FBI involved?"
"They're overseeing the operation, but they're not moving into the office. Honestly, I don't blame them for not wanting to have anything to do with this. Guererra can be rather demanding. We have information on the suspected attackers; I'll brief you when you get back."
"Got it. We'll be back soon."