Title: Bonus Points

Author: Yuma

Rating: PG

Warnings and/or Spoilers: Vague mention of past character death

Challenge#/Challenge Text: Challenge# 13 of ncis1000words, scrabble tiles

Author's Notes: 1000 words was a challenge. I went over, but hoping it doesn't mean the fic is full of fail…

The tiles K, A, T and E stared silently back from his holder. It was kind of freaky how after making the word pubic, borrowing McGee's capon (showoff), Tony's next four letters from the pile spelled out Kate. It was just like her—whether in person or by proxy of Hasbro—to be glowering at him for the word pubic but hey, he was gaining on them now.

Still though…Freaky.

"Respect," Ziva spelled, grabbing the triple letter score. Damn it. She lined up the tiles on the board that shared space with the ignored blue Jell-O (come on, blue?) and the lukewarm non-fat milk carton on the pull out table that hovered over his bed. She smirked as McGee, perched by the foot of his bed, groaned. He sat on the footboard.

Somewhere, a monitor bleeped.

"McGee!" Abby, to his right, squawked and she was louder than whatever those machines were around him. Her hand flapped wildly at McGee. "Get off!"

"Sorry!" McGee stammered and leapt up like his ass was on fire.

"You okay?" Abby stared at Tony as if he was one of those blood splatters they'd found in Major May's office last week. Then again, as standard procedure went, Abby probably had been staring at his blood splatter yesterday in order to close the case.

"It's not like Probie sat on me," Tony waved her off. Although it had felt like that yesterday when McGee was pressing down on his stomach, both hands clamped over the wound. And shouting. There'd been a lot of shouting: in his earwig, above him, around him.

Tony swallowed. All morning, his gut churned whenever he tried to move. He quirked a grin at Abby though because if she started crying like she had when he woke up that morning, he was going to have soggy lipstick marks all over his face again.

Abby glared at McGee before gingerly sitting back down on the edge of Tony's bed, making sure she avoided his IV lines.

"You guys," Tony yawned, a move that stretched his gut a little too sharply, "don't have to stay." He gestured vaguely at the board. "Gibbs is going to need everyone to, you know…do stuff, what with Hagan in custody."

"Gibbs is interrogating Hagan," Ziva told him as she leaned forward.

"Hey!" Tony covered his wooden slider with a hand. "No peeking!" He frowned. "Interrogating? Still? We got Hagan yesterday."

"Gibbs only got to him this morning," McGee offered as he rearranged his letters and studied them.

"This morning?" Tony repeated. McWebster must have a word. Probably a big one, too.

"Hagan stayed all night," Abby glanced down and snickered before she reached over and spelled—what?

"What was Gibbs doing last night then and what the hell is endotrophic?" Tony demanded as Abby borrowed Tony's dot and cleaned out her tiles.

"Bonus!" Abby cheered as she grabbed a bunch of tiles from the faux velvet pouch they'd hung off Tony's IV pole, next to Abby's balloons. They bobbed beside his multiple bags of liquid medicine…stuff.

"Abby," McGee groaned and sure enough, McGee reshuffled his tiles. His shoulders slumped. Way to be a poker player.

"Is anyone going to answer either part of my question?" Tony grated out. His stomach tightened enough that he wanted to throw up. Their case against Hagan was thin. Delayed questioning could mean Hagan walking.

"Endotrophic is a 'parasitic fungi that obtains nourishment from another organism'," McGee read from his iPhone. He looked up at everyone's stares. "At least that's what Wiki says."

Everyone, except Abby who was playing 'Find the Pea' and sifting through her tiles, stared at her winning word with disgust.

Tony sat back into the mountain of pillows Abby and Ziva had stolen from the adjacent empty bed. Only Abby would know the word for a mold vampire.

"And Gibbs?" Tony demanded. He realized he sounded a little like he was practicing for team leader again even as his insides burned and prickled.

Abby wordlessly reached behind Tony and set something white, something hollow sounding, down in front of him.

Tony blinked at the empty coffee cup. "Oh. Yeah. Well, I was wondering why it was glaring at me all stoic-like when I woke up this morning." He bit back a grin and nudged it aside with two fingers to make room for his tile holder. His throat worked when K, A, T, E gazed back at him again. He could rearrange them but somehow, knowing at least some part of her was still hanging around, maybe even filling in the extra empty chair by his head, was kind of reassuring.

"Come on, Probie," Tony said, his voice suddenly gruff, his eyes stinging, "Show us what you got."

McGee paused just a beat before…

"That is not a word!" Ziva exclaimed. "What is a Qua?"

"The sound a hiccuping crow makes," Tony muttered.

"I had the word quantity," McCheater grumbled as he shot Abby a glare.

"It's legit," Abby announced. She poked at the melting blue Jell-O on his tray, looking fascinated. "So's Qi, Suq and Qat."

"I thought we were doing words, not sound effects," Tony yawned. "What's the score?"

Abby beamed as she held up the scoreboard, the back of a prescription pad Ziva had swiped after Abby showed up with the game.

"What?" Tony stared at his total. "Don't I get anything for getting shot?"

After some hesitation, Abby added five more points.

"Five? Are you kidding me? Man, what would I have gotten if I had actually die—" Tony stopped. Triple glowers.

"Never mind," Tony mumbled. He slumped deeper into his pillows. Kate would have scored at least ten. He glanced over at the empty chair.

Ziva cleared her throat. "Your turn."

Tony stared at his letters, his throat working.

Before Tony could pass, a hand reached over from behind, plucked the letters from his sorter and aligned them behind Ziva's.

Tony raised his head, unsurprised to see Gibbs standing off his right shoulder, appearing very Marine-like despite Abby's three SpongeBob balloons suspended behind him.

"Skate," Abby read. Her voice faltered after the s but she recovered and gave Gibbs a grin. "Twenty-three points but nope, not enough to boost you back up. Sorry, Tony."

Abby tore off the old score sheet and started another one.

"That's okay," Tony murmured as he watched with half-mast eyes as Ziva and McGee reset the board for a new game, Gibbs easing into the chair beside him, filling the empty space.

It felt like maybe he was winning anyway.

The End