Disclaimer: Consider it disclaimed.
Notes: One-shot; my first published attempt at NCIS-fic. For my sister/beta reader, as a thank you. She knows what it's for :)
He saw the Israeli man's picture as it popped up, identified almost immediately. Why had Abby been searching for Michael Rivkin? If the home office was involved with this guy as well… the only connecting piece was… no. He wouldn't think of it.
"Do you think there's any chance Ziva-"
"Don't ask that question."
"Well, Tony, someone has to ask it."
"Oh, I know, McGee, I know. Leave it to me."
Mixed feelings as he processed the details: Ziva might have been involved. Tony went to talk to her. Tony killed Rivkin. Ziva might have been involved. Ziva wouldn't talk to Tony, or him, or Abby, or barely even Gibbs. They had to investigate at Ziva's apartment because Tony had killed Rivkin there.
Ziva might have been involved.
He crouched and lifted the burnt laptop from its hiding place. Had the apartment not been destroyed, he might not have found it at all. He half-hoped that they couldn't reconstruct it; if there really was any incriminating information on it, maybe it was better to just leave it be.
Ziva might have been involved. Could she have bombed her own place?
The buzzing of his phone roused McGee from his reminiscence. He'd already ignored calls from Tony and Palmer; he'd even left the phone on the nightstand when it had flashed Gibbs' name. He put it down as he saw NCIS – Director Vance appear on the caller ID.
They finally got the laptop back together. His initial assumptions about leaving it fried – the joke didn't seem as funny now – turned out to be correct.
"We traced several emails to a restricted account. A very, very restricted account."
"Restricted by who?"
"Us, Gibbs. Rivkin was emailing Ziva."
And then, then, then. How could Gibbs do this?
"So, Ziva's getting her stuff, or-"
"She parking the car?"
"Well, then, what is she doing?"
"Well, considering the time difference, probably eating breakfast."
The phone buzzed again. McGee was tempted to pick it up and throw it against the wall without even checking the ID. There was nobody he really wanted to talk to at the moment.
He had the phone in his hand and was about to toss it away from himself when he glanced, out of habit, at the caller ID. Abby Home flashed up at him.
McGee set his wineglass down and answered the phone.
A minute later, he was tugging on his shoes and walking to his car.
"I don't understand, Tim," was the only thing he heard before he found himself holding Abby. They stood on her stoop for a moment, arms around each other, before she drew back. They walked inside the door. McGee removed his jacket and turned to bolt the lock. When he turned back into the apartment, Abby was seated on the couch, looking… fragile. He'd never seen her in such a state.
"I don't understand, Tim," she repeated as he sat beside her and slipped an arm around her shoulders. "How could Gibbs do this?"
Her speech echoed his thoughts from earlier in the night. "I – I really don't know, Abs," he finally replied.
"I mean, she's our friend," Abby said, tears in her voice but no longer falling from her eyes. "You guys work right next to her every single day. I see her all the time. Ducky sees her all the time. We know her. There is no way," she paused, as if for emphasis, "no way that Ziva is a traitor. She wouldn't do that. I'm sure whatever she told Rivkin was- was-"
"Abby," he cut in gently. "Shh." He had noticed her use of the present tense, but couldn't correct her. She'd get there on her own. Eventually.
"I miss her, McGee," Abby said, tucking her head into his shoulder. "I want her back."
"Me too, Abs," he said. He stared at the wall in front of him, not seeing the pictures that Abby had hung there. "I want her back, too."
"Well, when is she coming back?"
McGee's grip on Abby's shoulders tightened, then relaxed when she lifted her head from his shoulder. "Just thinking," he replied to her questioning look.
"About Ziva." Not a question.
"About Gibbs," he corrected, then amended, "About Gibbs about Ziva."
Abby put her head back on his shoulder.
"What I don't understand," he said slowly, "is why Gibbs told her no at the airport." Abby didn't acknowledge him, but he continued anyway. "Tony said she rode with them all the way to the plane. Gibbs didn't even let her say goodbye. I mean, that doesn't sound very Gibbs-ish, does it?" He looked down and saw that Abby was staring up at him.
"Tim," she said in a low voice. "Please don't be going where I think you're going with this."
"What if it wasn't Gibbs?" McGee said softly, not triumphant in his deduction. "What if Ziva-"
"Derail," Abby said, closing her eyes. "Go somewhere else with that train of thought."
"I don't think it was Gibbs, Abby," he replied before sinking back into thought.
"This cannot happen! Vance cannot do this again!"
"It wasn't Vance's call."
"Well, if it wasn't Vance, then who?"
"Why would Tony tell us it was Gibbs if it wasn't?" Abby's voice reached through his thoughts.
McGee shook his head. "I don't think he's figured it out yet," he said honestly. "I think if Tony knew…"
"He'd blame himself for chasing her away," Abby completed. "Gibbs is just letting Tony think what he thinks to help him deal."
They fell back into silence for a few moments before Abby stood and walked to the wall they'd both been staring at but not noticing. She reached out to touch a picture. Her hand lingered as she spoke. "Why would Ziva do that? Leave at all, I mean, but especially leave like that, without saying goodbye? Or getting her stuff from her desk or…"
"Maybe…" McGee hesitated. "Maybe it was the Director."
"Wasn't Vance's call," she reminded him.
They stayed silent, he on the couch and she with her hand still on the picture. He rose from his seat and joined her, looking at the photo she was still touching.
It was Tony's birthday, and they'd snuck down to the lab, tricked him into it, really. He'd been hinting all day that it was his birthday, and everyone made a point of not responding to his bait. Finally, Abby had called him down to the lab, and when he got into the elevator, they'd had Brett from Maintenance shut it down while they rushed down the stairs.
Tony had walked into the lab ten minutes later. "Sorry, Abs, got stuck in the-"
"Surprise!" Abby yelled, launching herself across the room at Tony, who automatically raised his arms to return the embrace. There had been cake and a few streamers, but nothing "really un-hide-able, in case Director Killjoy comes down," Abby had explained.
"Tony's birthday party," he recalled, touching the picture himself, and taking Abby's hand with his own when he removed his fingers. "Who took this?"
"Brett from Maintenance," she answered. Her other hand came back to the picture, touching each face. Tony, his arm around Ziva's waist, which she, for once, didn't object to, and his other hand giving McGee bunny ears; McGee slightly in front of the other two, looking confused as Abby tugged his arm to get his to turn around. Ducky and Palmer stood, out of focus, in the background; Palmer was holding a plate of what must have been cake very close to his face. Gibbs stood between the field team in the foreground and the medical team in the background, turned towards the camera, a tolerant smile on his face.
"I didn't know they were going to take it," McGee said, looking at his own face in the photo. "And then the flash went off, and that's when…"
"I found Tony's birthday DNA evidence," Abby recalled, smiling. "Cracked the case wide open." She didn't sound as excited about that announcement as she usually did.
"I miss her," Abby said again, turning to face McGee. "I really, really, miss her."
He noticed the tears forming in her eyes again and tugged her arm to lead her back to the couch. "Yeah, Abby, me too. But maybe when she's done with whatever she has to do at Mossad is over-"
"Maybe," Abby cut him off. "Don't say it out loud. If I hear you say it, I'll know it's true, and if it doesn't happen and I know it's true I don't know what I'll do."
McGee smiled and didn't continue.
"Stay?" Abby asked, looking tired as she grasped his hand. "Just – we can just lay on the couch for a while."
McGee looked down at himself. He could stay, should stay – you'll stay, his inner monologue told him – but sleeping in these clothes-
"I still have your sweatpants, and you can borrow a t-shirt," Abby yawned.
"Okay," he agreed, not really wanting to know when she'd acquired a pair of his sweatpants or why she would still have them.
They spent the night lying together on the couch, sometimes talking, but mostly remembering. And hoping that Ziva was safe wherever she was.
And that she'd come back.
Ziva might have been involved.
But she wasn't.