A Series of Unfortunate Events
Jennifer Shepard had assumed that today was going to be a good day. Now, with midday fast approaching, she was being to rethink her initial assumption.
SECNAV had decided to drop by for an impromptu early morning meeting with her. Cynthia had managed to come down with the flu in the middle of September – Jenny knew it wasn't her assistant's fault, but it was a nightmare trying to run the agency without her. And to top it all off, someone had spilt soup inside MTAC and she was having to put up with the smell, which she could only describe as an odd mixture of fish and garlic, while making calls. The fully-vetted shampooing service wasn't available for another three days.
There was still time for her day to improve. She could continue to hope, but in the meantime she was treating herself to Jamaican blend coffee. She needed the caffeine to keep her going.
And if she had 'accidentally' stolen a few cups that Gibbs had been stupid enough to leave unguarded on his desk, she couldn't be blamed.
She was surprised he hadn't come chasing after her yet, cornering her in her office and yelling about his missing drinks. Or quoted Rule 23 at her. Or got Abby to poison his coffee to deter her from doing it ever again. Or replaced all the coffee in her house with decaf.
Shuddering, she headed back into her office. Perhaps he was simply biding his time until she cracked under the strain of trying to work out what he was up to…
The door closed behind her, and no sooner had she taken a step forward than the door almost flew off its hinges as someone flung it open. She jumped, turning round in the process, her brand-new coffee flying from her hands.
All over Jethro.
If she had had some time to process, she would have found it amusing that he was covered in scalding coffee. It was his own fault for barging in without knocking. But the coffee went all down him and he yelped.
"Hot," he managed to say.
"Boiling," she corrected. She began to push him out of the door. "Autopsy, now. Take your clothes off before the coffee can go through them."
She practically pushed him into the elevator. He had already pulled his shirt off. She could see red marks appearing on his torso.
"Pants too," she reminded him.
He glared at her. "If my team see me like this –" he started.
"Take them off or I'll cut them off," she ordered. "Dammit Jethro, that was my coffee."
"Glad to see you're more concerned about your caffeine fix than my health," he muttered under his breath.
She resisted the urge to hit him. They stumbled through the elevator doors as they opened, Jethro finally removing his pants just as they made it into Autopsy. Ducky looked up from his desk.
"She spilt her boiling coffee over me," Jethro explained immediately.
Jenny was right behind him. "He barged into my office without warning. It's his fault."
Ducky sighed. "Take a seat, Jethro."
Timothy McGee was aware he would be boiled alive if he was discovered, but he couldn't resist. Abby had bought him a gift and he wanted to know what it was.
He wasn't supposed to know about the gift, but Abby had told Tony who couldn't keep his big mouth shut. The senior field agent hadn't even tried to keep it a secret; he had spent all of yesterday whining in the squad room about Abby not buying him a present.
Tim had not mentioned the collection of DVDs Tony had been given the week before, nor the Magnum poster Abby had located and handed over, nor the huge chocolate cake she had baked for him a few days ago. All it would lead to was another argument and he wasn't in the mood to fight. Hacking the NSA was hard enough without any additional distractions.
But today, with Abby in court, he had decided to find out what she had bought for him. He was more than a little intrigued; she always found interesting things for him. She might have locked it in a drawer in her desk, but Ziva had taught him how to pick locks and he was hard at work.
It didn't help that he was worried about the Goth coming back early from court and catching him in the act. Nor did it help that she had positioned Bert like a security guard to watch over her desk.
Finally! The lock gave a tiny snick and the drawer slid open easily.
Bottles of strange substances lined the inside. He moved a few onto the desk above him to make it easier to search.
A bottle slipped and fell on him.
He didn't care about the glass, but he knew whatever chemical was now on him needed to be removed quickly. He grabbed the remains of the label, glanced at it to determine he wasn't going to die immediately, and raced towards the biohazard showers.
It could have been worse, but he still needed to get the chemical off his skin. He tore his clothes off as he ran, not caring if anyone saw him. The showers were mercifully empty and he began to relax under the spray.
Perhaps ten minutes later he heard the door to the shower area open. "McGee?" came a familiar call.
"Abby," he replied. "I got some potassium hydroxideon me."
"Poor Timmy," she cooed. "Did you find it while snooping through my desk?"
He winced, knowing she couldn't see him. "Yes."
"You'll need to see Ducky but you'll probably live," she continued. "I'll get you some clothes so you can come out."
"Thank you," he offered, happy she wasn't going to kill him for the moment.
His opinion changed when he stepped out to find her holding a pair of his underwear and a small towel. "I want the towel back when you've dried off," she smirked.
"Abby," he warned. "I am not walking through NCIS dressed like this."
"But you look good in tighty-whities," she smiled. "And you shouldn't have been going through my desk."
They rode the elevator to Autopsy together; McGee extremely thankful they were alone. Abby had a smirk on her face and he knew it was better to indulge her for the moment.
Autopsy had a few more occupants than he had been hoping for. Ducky was treating Gibbs, who was sitting on a table, while Director Shepard was standing in a corner glaring at her former partner. She was the first to look up when the doors swished open.
"Is everything okay, Agent McGee?" she inquired, her face a picture of concern.
"Spilt potassium hydroxide on myself, washed down in the biohazard showers and Abby won't give me my clothes," he summed up for everyone.
Ducky shook his head. "Today seems to be a day for accidents," he noted. "Climb up here and I'll have a look at you."
He glanced back at Abby, concerned her grin had widened. "I knew el jefe was a boxers guy," she grinned.
Ziva David glared at her partner as they stood in the evidence garage. It was a slow day and they were supposed to be collecting a cold case box, but Tony had decided it would be fun to show off to the probies who were on a tour of the building.
They were wasting time. Gibbs had given them an order and then headed up to see Jenny. He was not going to stay up there for long. It was only a matter of time before he returned and found all of his agents missing; McGee having left for Abby's lab the moment Gibbs' back was turned.
Still, at least Gibbs would automatically blame Tony for any delay. And she could always torment him later.
Tony continued to swan about – or was it lark? – while the probies stared. She rolled her eyes when he opened the evidence box and fished around inside.
"Nail gun," he grinned. "Not something to be found in Leroy Jethro Gibbs' basement. Who builds a boat without power tools anyway?" He shook his head. "This one was used to put a nail into the head of our victim. Ouch."
Ziva resisted the urge to snatch the nail gun and use it on her partner. They did not need to participate in this show and tell.
"I don't see how it could be so painful," Tony mused as the probies slowly moved away. He turned to her and grinned. "I'm sure you could do more damage."
"We are going upstairs now," she demanded. "Or I will show you exactly how much more damage I can do."
He grinned, continuing to play with the nail gun. "Maybe our Mossad torturer could use her skills to retrieve the McGeek from the lair of our princess of the night. Knowing the Probie, he'll never leave –" He screamed.
She whirled around to look at him. He was leaning heavily on the wall, both hands clutching his left leg. "Tony?" she asked.
"Might have accidentally shot myself with the nail gun," he whimpered. "I got it wrong – it hurts like hell."
She knelt down, pushing his hands away from the wound so she could look. "Take off your shirt," she ordered.
"You can make a tourniquet out of your top," he pointed out, attempting to grin despite the pain.
"I bought this yesterday," she countered, still inspecting the wound. "You were the idiot who shot himself; you can lose your shirt."
This time he obeyed, undoing a few buttons before pulling it over his head. She had already started cutting away his pants with her knife, ignoring the way he tensed when she got close to certain areas. She was not in the mood to castrate him today.
She patched him up as best she could and began to push him into the elevator. His face creased with pain whenever he took a step, despite him leaning on her. It took longer than she liked to arrive at Autopsy.
"Ducky!" she called the moment the doors opened.
To her surprise, Jenny and Abby were the ones to stick their heads out of Autopsy.
"What's the…" Jenny trailed off and moved over to help support Tony, Abby by her side.
They half-carried Tony into Autopsy and placed him on the nearest table. When Ziva looked up, she was even more surprised to see Gibbs and McGee sitting on the next table, both in similar states of undress to Tony.
"My oh my," Ducky muttered. "Everyone's injured today."
Abby Scuito was grinning. Naturally she was concerned about her favorite team managing to injure themselves about an hour apart, but she knew they were in Ducky's capable hands.
And Tony was the only one in any pain, though it was all his fault and Ducky had given him a lot of painkillers which were due to kick in soon. Gibbs was glaring at his senior field agent in a way that suggested he would put Tony through worse pain when he recovered.
In a corner of Autopsy, Abby was standing with Jenny and Ziva. All of them were staring at the backs of the males. It wasn't surprising – they were all down to their skivvies, with the exception of Ducky. Abby wasn't sure if she was disappointed or relieved.
"How long do you think we can get away with not providing any clothes for them?" Ziva whispered. "It is a nice view."
Abby tried not to giggle as she remembered her cell phone, snapping a few pictures for posterity. Ziva joined in with a grin. Jenny shook her head but muttered something in Hebrew to Ziva.
"Not fair to communicate in a language I don't understand," Abby muttered.
"You and Gibbs talk in ASL in front of everyone," Jenny noted.
"Jenny wants me to send her the photos I have taken," Ziva translated.
Abby nudged Jenny. "You're as interested as we are."
"The Director should not have half-naked photos of her employees on her cell phone," Jenny pointed out.
The doors to Autopsy swished open and everyone automatically looked over. Palmer stood in the doorway without a stitch of clothing on him. When he caught sight of everyone staring, he hurriedly tried to cover himself.
"Mr. Palmer!" Ducky barked. "Please put some clothes on."
Palmer was already bright red. "There was… erm, I mean there has been… a, erm, problem in the men's restroom on this floor… which is causing the, erm, sprinklers to permanently run in… erm, all over the place and I didn't want to waste time going… to a different restroom and I, erm, might have left my clothes in there because, erm, I thought Autopsy would be empty and I could get some fresh scrubs –"
"Leave, Jimmy," Abby ordered, trying desperately not to laugh. "Before you dig through to Australia."
Palmer made his way as quickly as he could to the other door while trying to cover as much of himself as possible. "I'm so sorry for this –" he began again as he left.
"You know," Ducky mused aloud. "I have a horrible feeling we're out of fresh scrubs…"